Disturbing DustDocumentary | 2002 | SBS
Robyn and her husband Peter were newlywed and struggling for cash when they bought their first home together– a modest cottage in the Perth hills. Like thousands of Australians, they used James Hardie asbestos products to create a cheap and sturdy extension.
Robyn held asbestos sheets for Peter while he cut them. In doing so, she inhaled a microscopic time bomb – fibres of asbestos that sat undetected in her lungs for twenty-seven years.
Like thousands of Australians, Robyn discovers that an innocent renovation has led her to a death sentence. The asbestos fibres have created an incurable cancer that kills its victim within an average of nine months – she has mesothelioma, the most virulent asbestos disease. Robyn and Peter Unger discover that asbestos manufacturer James Hardie had allowed decades to pass before they warned consumers that their lucrative building product was killing people. Knowing this, and that she is only at the very beginning of Australia’s peak in asbestos deaths, Robyn and Peter agree to document the last months they have together.
This is an inspiring personal story of devotion, friendship, loss and the capacity to carry on. Through the Unger family, we discover an epidemic, which has decimated an industry, and is now beginning its journey through our suburbs.