Statewide asbestos testing needed in NSW on suspect Mr Fluffy homes
18 September 2014
Any householder in NSW who is concerned about Mr Fluffy asbestos contamination in their homes should be eligible for free testing, according to asbestos experts Maurice Blackburn.
Over the past three months, the firm has been fielding calls from residents and homeowners in the ACT and surrounding areas over Mr Fluffy asbestos and around 200 people have sought advice over what they should do to protect their health and assets.
Workcover NSW and the Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities is offering free testing for homes in certain local government authorities, but not all areas. Testing on homes is due to begin next week. A cross party Parliamentary Inquiry has also been set up in NSW to look into Mr Fluffy asbestos.
“Given the problems created by loose-fill Mr Fluffy asbestos used in the ACT, testing should be offered for any properties in NSW rather than cherry-picking certain council areas,” said Theodora Ahilas, principal and head of asbestos law.
“We do not want to see a repeat of the situation in the ACT where there was a failed remediation process and there is ongoing confusion and trauma for thousands of people. The NSW testing has to be systematic. At first it was thought that only isolated areas in the south east of the state and near the ACT were affected; now we know that parts of North Sydney and elsewhere are, too. It makes common sense for every local government area to offer free testing, to be on the safe side, rather than just cherry picking a few areas.
“There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos fibres and we know that loose-fill raw asbestos was a particularly problematic, because it has been crushed into a fine state and fibres can become airborne from ceilings, sub-floors and walls and easily circulated around a home causing health risks. This is quite different to commonly-used asbestos sheeting used to build and renovate homes.
“For this reason it is important that people take advantage of the free testing available to householders so they are in a stronger position to make plans and protect their health.
“Maurice Blackburn has been supporting the Mr Fluffy Action Group and For Renewal advocacy and support groups set up for home owners and residents in the ACT affected by loose-fill asbestos contamination.
“There is an enormous amount of stress and confusion for people who know they live in a Mr Fluffy home or are awaiting testing, and they are particularly concerned there could be a threat to their family’s health. Many people have already had to move out of their homes because of the risk to their health.
“People have seen their property values plummet and they don’t feel their homes are healthy places. Some have already developed asbestos related diseases.
“The public needs all the information they can about protecting their health and their properties.”