Women to be big part of "third wave" of asbestos diseases

A NEW asbestos research report has found women are likely to form a significant proportion of the 'third wave' of people with asbestos-related diseases.

Conducted by Southern Cross University, The Asbestos Narratives investigated the social and psychological impacts of asbestos disease, leading to the development of an online community aimed at helping sufferers, their families and carers.

Project leader Associate Professor Rick van der Zwan, director of the university's Regional Initiative for Social Innovation and Research, said about 3500 people died in Australia from asbestos-related diseases each year. An estimated 40,000 people in total would eventually die from asbestos.

"The medical effects of this disease are well researched, but little has been known about the social, psychological and economic implications," he said.

"Exposure to asbestos can result in a range of debilitating diseases, all of which can leave people physically and socially isolated."

One of the key aspects of the project was the development of the Dusted Community, an online peer-to-peer support group for individuals with a diagnosed asbestos disease, for their carers and families.

Professor van der Zwan said it was hoped the findings of the report would inform policy makers and the future provision of services and support.

Barry Robson, president of the Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia, said the study highlighted the plight of victims in isolated areas.



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