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Mar 2024

2024 Asbestos Conference – Sustaining Innovation

2024 Asbestos Conference – Sustaining Innovation

What does innovation look like when it comes to asbestos management? This was explored at the Asbestos 2024 Conference in Melbourne from 4 to 6 March.

Jo Morris, our Managing Director and Co-founder, journeyed east and joined others within the asbestos industry to discover new ways to manage, remove and dispose of ageing asbestos containing materials, as well as innovations in diagnosing and treating asbestos-related illnesses.

The conference, hosted by Asbestos & Silica Safety & Eradication Agency (ASSEA) and the Faculty of Asbestos Management Australia & New Zealand (FAMANZ), also looked at how the industry will identify and manage other elongated mineral particles being more widely found in the natural environment. It was a full schedule with insightful speakers and meaningful takeaways.

Here’s a short overview…

They heard from our Reflections ambassador, Professor Fraser Brims, Respiratory Physician of Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital about the Asbestos Review Program he heads and techniques being used for early lung cancer and mesothelioma detection.

Professor Steven Kao, Oncologist of Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, also presented and spoke on the promising research he and the scientists at the Asbestos Dust Disease Research Institute (ADDRI) were undertaking aimed at improving treatment of mesothelioma. They also received insight as to benefit of using mesothelioma specific nurses in the healthcare system in the United Kingdom from Liz Darlinson from Mesothelioma UK.

There were also presentations from companies and State based government agencies about the volume of asbestos cement materials (“ACMs”) still in the built environment which are now being subjected to renovation works and beginning to degrade. Currently there remains 6.4 million tonnes of ACMs in the built environment, with 1 in 3 Australian homes contain asbestos. Should ACMs be removed from buildings in the next few years, 28,000 deaths could be prevented by 2100. That’s an incredible statistic, emphasising the impact of asbestos and why we strive to raise awareness to reduce these ongoing risks.

Unfortunately, asbestos continues to be used around the world including in Laos, Cambodia and Indonesia. There is significant difficulty in having mesothelioma diagnosed in these regions. And looking a bit closer to home, Thuroona Services discussed their role in the removal of the last dwellings and buildings in Wittenoom. These buildings were removed in an attempt to discourage people from visiting the region formerly renowned for the mining of blue asbestos in the 1960s. Something many West Australians are, sadly, familiar with.

From all accounts, it was incredibly valuable attending such an informative conference and catch up with those who share similar values aimed at advocating those exposed to asbestos and suffering from mesothelioma. A special mention to the Asbestos Victims Association (SA), Asbestos Disease Foundation of Australia (NSW), the Asbestos Council of Victoria (VIC) and the team at Turner Freeman Lawyers.

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