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While children are not intrinsically more susceptible to asbestos-related diseases, they may carry a higher risk than adults of developing mesothelioma over their lifetime, according to a BBC News report.

The news report covers research carried out by the Committee on Carcinogenicity. This research indicates that because children have more years of life left for asbestos-related cancer to develop, they are five times more likely to develop the disease than a 30-year-old, if exposed to asbestos fibres at the same time.

The NSW Department of Health also states that it can take 20 to 30 years after exposure for asbestos-related disease to develop. It follows therefore that the younger someone is exposed, the higher the risk may be, simply because of the time factor involved.

This makes it important to be aware of asbestos in your home, and to consider whether to leave it in place or to have it safely removed altogether. It’s also vital to be aware of products marketed to children that could contain asbestos.

Where might asbestos be in your home?

Asbestos was once commonly used in cement sheeting, roofing, insulation, drainpipes and flues in the home. It doesn’t usually present a risk for most people if left alone, but is risky to health if the fibres become airborne, such as during renovations, repairs or demolitions.

It can be hard to know exactly where asbestos might be in your home. The best way to find out is through an accredited asbestos inspection. An air test can also be done to measure the concentration of asbestos fibres in the air on your property.

Asbestos in kids’ products

It’s also important to be aware that some products marketed to children can contain asbestos. Recently, there was a nationwide recall of Polaris children’s quad bikes after some of the bikes’ parts (such as brakes and gaskets) from a supplier in Taiwan were found to contain asbestos. Consumers were advised to contact an authorised dealer to have replacement parts fitted at no cost.

Traces of asbestos have also been found in some brands of children’s wax crayons, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). While the asbestos in the crayons was bonded and considered low-risk, asbestos is nevertheless a prohibited substance in products.

Testing your home for asbestos

It’s important to ensure that children do not have access to asbestos-containing materials in your home, especially if they are likely to be disturbed (such as during renovations) or have become damaged or worn. But even if you don’t have children, care should still be taken. People of any age are vulnerable to asbestos-related diseases if exposed to fibres.

Help reduce your risk by booking an accredited asbestos inspection to pinpoint any asbestos material in your home, and by getting professional advice on how to dispose of the material safely.