Exposure to asbestos in occupational circumstances has decreased considerably in most developed countries over the last three decades, with improved exposure control and monitoring in most work situations and the prohibition on the use of asbestos in most occupational circumstances. Unfortunately, occupational exposures do still occur through renovation, repair and demolition of buildings, either with asbestos removal being a specific focus of the work or asbestos exposure being incidental to the main purpose of the work. Focus has also increased in recent years on exposure in non-occupational circumstances to in-situ asbestos, particularly through ”Do-It-Yourself” (DIY) home renovations. These occupational and non-occupational circumstances are the so-called ”third wave” of exposure to asbestos.
Despite considerable efforts in terms of occupational education and training, and broader publicity, there appears to be a lack of awareness by many workers of the potential for asbestos exposure and the circumstances in which such exposures can be expected. This leads to potential exposures not being appropriately controlled and probably to workers being inadvertently exposed or exposed at levels higher than is necessary or considered acceptable. Although many of the high-risk situations are known or can be reasonably anticipated, there is a lack of information on the frequency and levels of exposures associated with many of these third wave exposure situations, making it difficult to develop appropriate guidance regarding preventing and controlling the exposures.
This presentation will consider these issues as part of the overall symposium on ”In situ asbestos and the risks of exposure for workers”.