Couple helping others as asbestos cancer bites

Renee and Barry Knowles at one of their morning teas. Picture: Bruce Hunt www.communitypix.com.au d413879
Renee and Barry Knowles at one of their morning teas. Picture: Bruce Hunt www.communitypix.com.au d413879

Helena Valley’s Barry Knowles and his wife Renee, are conducting coffee and chat mornings once a month to help people diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Mr Knowles (70) said of the apprentices that he started with in the building industry, three now have the asbestos-related lung cancer.

Mr Knowles was diagnosed in 2008 and is still in good health, but he said numbers were growing of people he knew who were now quite ill.

There were 300 deaths in Western Australia in 2013 from asbestos-related diseases.

He said he wanted to issue a warning to home renovators to be careful because there were about 80 uses of asbestos in the building industry in the 1980s.

It was important for home renovators to do an asbestos audit and look for certain items.

If identified, Mr Knowles said the material must be taken out by a qualified asbestos remover.

He said asbestos sheeting breaks down after 15 years and can release deadly particles into the air if inhaled.

‘Western Australia is currently in the grip of a mesothelioma cancer epidemic and no other country in the world has as many cases as Australia and no states as many cases as WA,’ Mr Knowles said.

An annual walk to raise money for cancer research will take place in October.

To register interest in the walk or sponsor walkers, phone the Asbestos Disease Society on 9344 4077. To join the coffee mornings in Helena Valley ring Barry or Renee on 9250 8105.