According to the poll of NSW based renovators, 60 per cent admit to exposing themselves to the deadly material and they appear to be flippant about the associated risks. The poll also found frightening levels of exposure to building materials now linked to fatal lung disease.

More than half (53 per cent) of the renovators admitted their partner also had exposure to asbestos, while 40 per cent said even their children had been in potentially deadly contact.

The poll conducted by Sydney-based Dr Anthony Johnson of 3,600 home renovators and he found the results unexpected and troubling.

I think it is frightening ... people are educated about the risks but they are still taking them, said Dr Johnson who is a respiratory physician at Liverpool Hospital.

We know from experience that people who have had only a little bit of exposure to asbestos can develop life-threatening diseases, such as mesothelioma.

 Up to the early 80s, asbestos was widely used in homes built in Australia. If undisturbed, it is considered safe, but removal of asbestos-containing products from a home, must be done by a certified contractor.

Many home renovators opted to deal with it themselves when they encountered not huge amounts of asbestos and they think it's not worth the trouble, I'll do it myself, suspected Dr Johnson.

But there were people who reported being exposed as they were doing renovations this year and last year ... it is ongoing, said Dr Johnson.

I think they are flippant because the risk is not immediate, it is in the long term. The average time between exposure and getting mesothelioma, the cancer from asbestos, is about 45 years (and) people discount future risks.

While the poll was limited to NSW, the use of asbestos building materials extend across the country and the habits of home renovators were likely to be similar everywhere.

A revision of the nation's anticipated peak in mesothelioma cases, expected from 2014 to 2017 based on history of asbestos exposure, may be done by the health authorities.

There will be a much longer tail, said Dr Johnson. The research will be presented at the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand's annual scientific meeting, to be held in Brisbane, from March 20th to 24th.