Over the past few month NSW WorkCover have been coordinating asbestos inspections throughout the Lithgow area to identify houses which may contain friable loose fill asbestos insulation. So far one house in Lithgow has been confirmed to contain the deadly Mr Fluffy loose fill insulation. Lithgow is approximately 2 hrs west of Sydney, just on the other side of the Katoomba and the Blue Mountains.
Loose fill asbestos was filled in hoses in the 1960s and 1970s by the infamous Mr Fluffy where there were 57 homes in NSW that have been identified through historical records. There are now however a total of 72 homes have been identified as at 28 July 2015. If your home has been built prior to 1980 then there is a chance that your house could contain loose asbestos insulation and you are encouraged to have the roof and insulation inspected for the possible deadly material.
The asbestos insulation that has been pumped into the roof spaces of homes have been reported to be amosite (brown asbestos) and crocidolite (blue asbestos), both of which are the amphibole type of mineral groups. The amphibole fibres are the most hazardous due to the chemical resistance which do not break down as easily in the lung acids as white chrysotile asbestos. These are the asbestos fibres which are attributed to mesothelioma, a very aggressive cancer.
NSW WorkCover is providing free asbestos testing within only 26 local government areas within the state to identify houses which contain this insulation with Lithgow and surrounding towns included. If loose fill asbestos is confirmed to be within the insulation, then you may be eligible for assistance. This may include up to $10,000 relocation assistance, up to $1000 for replacement of soft furnishings, up to $1000 for legal advice, up to $850 for counselling services and if you buy another home there may be a concession on the stamp duty.
The first step is to have an inspection of your home first to determine the nature of the material, whether it may be asbestos, or other materials such as loose cellulose or Synthetic Mineral Fibres (SMF).
Many houses in Lithgow are small mining cottages that will generally contain asbestos fibreboard (fibro) and other asbestos containing building materials. The situation with the loose asbestos fill has made Lithgow residents more aware of the potential health risks associated with hazardous materials in their home. When undertaking any renovations, it is prudent to have a full asbestos inspection to ensure that you won’t be exposed when work is conducted on the house.
Safe Environments frequently conduct asbestos inspection services to the Lithgow region and in many cases residents also send suspected asbestos materials in to our NATA accredited laboratory for analysis. While this comes at a cost, WorkCover NSW are providing free asbestos testing of roof insulation for free to homeowners in Lithgow and surrounding regions.
You can register directly with NSW WorkCover to have your insulation tested by phoning 13 77 88 and asbestos inspection of the roof space will be arranged if you live within the Lithgow City Council area.
Author: Carl Strautins
Carl Strautins is a managing director of Safe Environments Pty Ltd a multi-specialist consultancy operating in the building, construction and property management industries. He provides the necessary guidance and risk minimisation strategies required by architects, construction companies and facility managers to ensure they mitigated their risk to property risk. He is engaged on a regular basis to provide expert opinion for disputes and legal proceedings. Click here to know more about him.