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Working out where you were exposed to asbestos

People who are diagnosed with mesothelioma are sometimes confused as to where they were exposed to asbestos.  The only known cause of mesothelioma in Australia is exposure to asbestos. Courts in Australia have accepted expert evidence that;

  • There is no known threshold of exposure to asbestos for the causation of mesothelioma;
  • All non-trivial exposure to asbestos outside of 10 years is causative of mesothelioma and
  • The average latency period from exposure to diagnosis is 37 years.

While traditionally exposure to asbestos has occurred during the course of employment, the number of persons diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of non-occupational exposure (the so-called ”third wave”) has increased over the last 10 years. Persons exposed to asbestos during the course of DIY home renovations now make up a significant portion of those diagnosed with mesothelioma (35.7% of females and 8.4% of males diagnosed with mesothelioma in Western Australia between 2000 were exposed to asbestos as a result of home renovations).

For other people the exposure may be as a result of a family member’s work.  This is particularly true for women who washed their husband’s work clothes.

It is common for persons exposed to asbestos outside of employment to initially not recall where they were exposed. Many people are unaware of the large number of products that contained asbestos. Asbestos was used in Australia in products including;

Fibro cement sheeting used in the eaves, roofs, internal and external walls, ceilings and floors (All Fibro sheets including Hardiflex sheets manufactured before 1983 contained asbestos);

  • Roofing sheets, tiles and shingles;
  • Floor coverings (vinyl asbestos tiles and backings of laminate floor coverings);
  • Water, sewerage and flue pipes;
  • Fire blankets and curtains and in heaters and stoves;
  • Fillers and packing;
  • Clutch and brake linings, gaskets and brake pads;
  • Electrical panels; and
  • Insulation, rope, cloth and putty.

If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma and are unsure of where you are exposed to asbestos, then you should confer with an expert lawyer who has experience in asbestos claims. By asking questions about your employment, your family’s employment, the houses you lived in and your hobbies an experienced lawyer should be able to identify an exposure to asbestos and advise you of any rights you have to claim compensation at common law as well as statutory compensation.

New treatments are available for mesothelioma however such treatments are expensive. Identifying an exposure to asbestos opens up the possibility of compensation to meet the costs of promising treatments.

Tanya Segelov has acted for hundreds of sufferers of mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases over 23 years including acting for the late asbestos campaigner Bernie Banton in both his claims against his former employer, James Hardie. Tanya has particular expertise in third wave bystander low dose exposure claims. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, please contact Tanya by telephone on (02) 8880 0500 or by email to organise a time where she can confer with you at your home at our office.

We act on a “no-win no fee” basis for all asbestos claims. This means you will not be charged any money upfront and will only be charged for our legal costs if you are successful in your claim.

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