An accomplished professor has pleaded with Aussie renovators to “wake up” to the hidden dangers of asbestos exposure. Gillian North was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2019. Her prognosis means she is unlikely to live until Christmas.
Speaking with the Daily Mail, Ms North has implored people to pay asbestos contractors to remove any suspicious material.
“If I can save one life by raising awareness about this deadly material and how easy it is to die from contact with it then all my work is worth it,” she told Daily Mail Australia.
“It is completely preventable, if only people knew.”
Ms North believes she contracted the disease during her own home renovations more than 30 years ago.
“‘I knew absolutely nothing… about the dangers of asbestos to health, took no precautions because I didn’t know,” she said.
“I didn’t use any professional asbestos assessments or professionals.”
On top of warning the public about the dangers of DIY renovation, Ms North has also published 18 research papers on proposed asbestos reforms and the dangers of asbestos exposure.
She is calling for national public health campaigns to better inform the public of the risk of exposure to legacy asbestos, in addition to compulsory asbestos assessments on residential properties, legal requirements for owners to use licensed asbestos professionals and economic support for those who may need it when removing asbestos from a property.
“The problem (of mesothelioma from asbestos exposure) is certainly not over, far from it,” Ms North said in a video. “In fact, the number of people with asbestos-related diseases is actually climbing.”
More than 800 people were diagnosed with asbestos-related mesothelioma last year, and 766 succumbed to the disease. It is likely the actual number of related deaths is more than several thousand.