Simon says don’t be alarmed by mesothelioma levels in the Canberra community

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SIMON Corbell says initial results from a study by ANU researchers into the health risks associated with living in a home insulated with “Mr Fluffy” loose-fill asbestos has found while there has been a rising incidence in mesothelioma over the past three decades, cases are still extremely rare.

Simon released the first part of the four-part ACT Asbestos Health Study today. The purpose of the study, commissioned by the ACT Government, is to gain a better understanding of the health risks associated with living in a house insulated with the “Mr Fluffy” loose-fill asbestos, which was installed in more than 1000 Canberra homes in the 1960s and 1970s.

“In the period from 1982 to 2011, only one case of mesothelioma had been diagnosed in a person recorded as a resident of a “Mr Fluffy” house at the time of diagnosis,” Simon said.

“Although the increase in the ACT between 1994 and 2011 was at a slightly greater rate than across the rest of Australia, the incidence of mesothelioma in the territory is now similar to that of other jurisdictions. Identifying trends from this data carries statistical uncertainty because of the small case numbers involved.

“While that jump is a cause of concern it is also important to note that in the ACT, similar to the rest of Australia, this cancer is mainly diagnosed in older males, suggesting the cause may be more likely due to occupational exposure.

“While the reason for higher diagnosis for older males is uncertain, it is hoped that the ANU study may shed some light on this.

“This report is only the first part of the study. Each part of the study will feed information into the next, so the whole picture will not become clear until the end of the study.”

The final results of the study will be released in 2017.

The report will be posted to the NCEPH’s website at nceph.anu.edu.au.

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