Young Australians that'urban explore' are unwittingly putting themselves at serious risk of harm.
Sweeping the globe, the phenomenon commonly referred to as'Urbex' encourages scouting out and exploring abandoned man-made structures such as disused factories and drain tunnels. An increasing number of online communities that promote the activity are driving the craze, suggesting potential sites for enthusiasts to explore. Those who take part post photos and videos of their exploits on social media.
However, a sinister side to this movement exists. YouTube videos depict teens and young adults entering abandoned buildings which are riddled with hazardous materials including lethal asbestos products.
Asbestos building products were most commonly used in Australia between the 1950s and 1970s, promoted as an inexpensive, durable and versatile product. Consequently, many of these derelict Urbex sites contain various types of asbestos products, including asbestos cement sheeting, fireproofing materials, corrugated roofing, asbestos lagging and much more.
Asbestos is now widely recognised as an occupational health hazard and a major cause of human injury and death. In Australia, most asbestos is white asbestos but all forms are capable of causing lung cancer, mesothelioma as well as other asbestos-related diseases such as pleural fibrosis and asbestosis.
Asbestos-related illnesses typically take anywhere from twenty up to fifty years to develop and can be difficult to detect initially.
While these illnesses are commonly diagnosed in people who have a background of heavy asbestos exposure, even those with relatively low levels of exposure can and have contracted asbestos-related diseases.
Put simply, there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. Therefore, those engaging in Urbex should exercise extreme caution, particularly if entering sites where asbestos may be present.
If you or someone you know have been exposed to asbestos or have developed a dust related disease, we invite you speak to our asbestos team on (03) 9321 9879.