Charity hammers home the dangers of asbestos


Nearly half (47%) of homeowners who do DIY in their properties do not realise that asbestos was used as a building material in homes as recently as the 1990s, according to a British Lung Foundation (BLF) survey out today.

As part of Action Mesothelioma Day 2010, the BLF is urging DIYers to be Asbestos Aware after the survey of 2,000 homeowners revealed that nearly two thirds (65%) are not confident identifying asbestos-containing materials in the home. Typically asbestos can be found in materials such as floor tiles, toilet cisterns, textured ceiling coatings and linings of boiler cupboards.

Less than a third (29%) of those surveyed said they would check their homes for asbestos-containing materials before they DIYed, while an alarming three quarters (77%) say they have never received any information on how to identify and manage the substance. Worryingly one in ten (11%) also said if they did come across asbestos in their homes they would try to dispose of it themselves.

Nearly fourteen million homes were built when asbestos materials were being used in construction. This is why the charity is urging DIYers to ensure they know how to identify asbestos-containing materials and do DIY safely. Having this asbestos knowledge could help to prevent them developing mesothelioma, an asbestos related cancer between 15 – 50 years later.

Meostheliomais a cruel disease which kills one person every five hours in the UK . In addition to the survey, the British Lung Foundation has teamed up with DIY expert and TV presenter Craig Phillips, winner of Big Brother 1 to promote the Action Mesothelioma Day campaign.

Craig Phillips, who has worked in the construction industry for 20 years and appeared on over 850 construction and DIY TV programmes in the past decade, knows only too well the effects that asbestos can cause as his uncle has asbestosis – another condition caused by exposure to asbestos.

Craig said: “I am delighted to be helping the British Lung Foundation, the only UK charity working to support everyone affected by lung disease, to promote the annual Action Mesothelioma Day campaign. This campaign is particularly close to my heart as my uncle has been affected by asbestos exposure so I know exactly how dangerous asbestos can be. I want to encourage keen DIY-ers to be more vigilant in their homes when making improvements and follow the BLF’s Be Asbestos Aware top tips.”

Dame Helena Shovelton, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: “Annually we hold our Action Mesothelioma Day campaign to raise awareness about this very cruel disease that kills one person every five hours in the UK. Yet despite such a devastating illness, the general public knows very little about Mesothelioma, the lung cancer caused by asbestos.

“This year, the British Lung Foundation, the only charity working to support everyone affected by lung disease, is focusing on homeowners that do DIY. Our survey has highlighted that nearly half of all homeowners do not know that asbestos was actually used as a building material and could be in their homes today – in light of this there’s definitely more work that needs to be done to ensure people are Asbestos Aware.”

An online competition has also been launched, just answer our question to be in with a chance of winning a DIY package prize. There is also the Action Mesothelioma Day video available presented by Craig Phillips.

Photos of Craig Phillips are available to view and download

This year’s campaign has been kindly sponsored by Fentons LLP.

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