Bernie Banton’s widow wants increased vigilance on asbestos

Karen Banton. Photo: AAP
Karen Banton. Photo: AAP

THE wife of late asbestos campaigner Bernie Banton has used the 10th anniversary of his death to call for greater awareness about the fibres’ dangers to prevent a third wave of victims.

Since losing her husband in 2007 to mesothelioma cancer, a disease almost always caused by exposure to asbestos, Karen Banton has worked to educate the public about the fibres’ deadly risks.

An estimated two people a day die from asbestos-related diseases in Australia alone, an average of one person every 14 hours.

Yet despite the concerning statistics, a rise in DIY renovations in the home – spurred on by popular TV shows – has led to a future influx of a third wave of asbestos-related disease victims with risk warnings appearing to fall on deaf ears.

“We’re seeing victims like young Adam who lost his fight with mesothelioma cancer after being diagnosed at only 24 years old,” Ms Banton said in a statement on Monday.

“He was exposed to asbestos as a child when he helped his parents sweep up asbestos dust from a DIY home renovation.”

More than 61 per cent of NSW DIY renovators reported asbestos exposure during renovations, according to a 2013 study.

In November, a Senate Committee interim report made a number of recommendations to help protect Australians from asbestos.

As National Asbestos Awareness Week kicked-off on Monday, Labor called on the federal government to implement these recommendations.

Former top-rating Nine television personality Don Burke, Ambassador for the campaign, warned the public last week it would be years before the danger disappeared.

Burke, who has since been accused of sexually harassing and indecently assaulting women who worked on his gardening program in the 1980s and 1990s, remains part of the campaign, a spokeswoman confirmed to AAP.

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