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July 2, 2010

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Campaign – Homeowners unaware of asbestos dangers

Almost half of homeowners who do DIY in their properties are unaware that asbestos was used as a building material in homes as recently as the 1990s.

This is one of a number of worrying findings highlighted in a survey by the British Lung Foundation (BLF), carried out to promote Action Mesothelioma Day on 2 July.

The survey of 2000 homeowners also revealed that 65 per cent are not confident identifying asbestos-containing materials in the home. Just 29 per cent of those surveyed said they would check their homes for asbestos-containing materials before carrying out DIY, and 11 per cent said they would try to dispose of asbestos if they discovered it in their home.

According to the BLF, around 14 million houses were built when asbestos materials were still being used in construction. Typically, the substance was used in floor tiles, toilet cisterns, textured ceiling coatings, and linings of boiler cupboards.

Exposure to asbestos can lead to the development of the cancer mesothelioma. Commented Dame Helena Shovelton, chief executive of the BLF: “Annually we hold our Action Mesothelioma Day campaign to raise awareness about this very cruel disease, which 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.”

TV presenter and DIY expert, Craig Phillips, is backing the awareness-raising effort. He said: “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.”

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