Up until the 1980’s asbestos was widely used as a building material in dwellings all across Australia, prized for its insulative and heat resistant properties.
As a result, asbestos can be found in most older homes in locations such as splashbacks, fire places, walls, insulation, piping and underneath tiles. However, one place you might not expect to find asbestos is in the family car.
That's right, before asbestos was banned in Australia in 2003 it was not uncommon to find it in car parts such as brakes, clutches, gaskets and hood liners.
Although the use of asbestos in housing products slowed down well before the 2003 ban came into affect, asbestos was still used in car parts into the early 2000’s.
Today, asbestos is usually only found in cars built before the ban (such as vintage and classic cars), with the notable exception of vehicles and parts imported from countries where asbestos is still legal.
Sure, it has been illegal to use asbestos in car parts for close to 15 years here in Australia, but unfortunately that hasn't stopped mechanics from being at risk of asbestos related diseases.
According to law firm Slater and Gordon, the number of mechanics requesting legal action for asbestos exposure has increased by 200% in the last two years.
Asbestos exposure is associated with a variety of serious health conditions including mesothelioma, pleural disease, asbestosis and lung cancer. Often it can be difficult to gauge the damage of asbestos exposure as all these aforementioned diseases can take up to four decades to show any symptoms. For this reason we are only now seeing the impact of this latest wave of exposure.
As Australia continues to grapple with high rates of mesothelioma and ongoing issues with asbestos, it is clearer than ever that the asbestos ban is not enough. We must remain vigilant and committed to removing asbestos from our communities and ensure we do not become desensitised to the serious health risks asbestos exposure can lead to.