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NSW residents urged to assess loose-fill asbestos risk

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Media Release

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A Slater and Gordon lawyer is encouraging residents to take up the free asbestos inspections being offered by the State Government and Workcover NSW following reports that up to 20 homes in North Sydney could contain potentially deadly loose-fill asbestos.

Senior asbestos lawyer Joanne Wade said revelations follow reports of other properties in the ACT and a small number of homes in Queanbeyan, Palarang, Yass and Orange containing the Mr Fluffy brand loose-fill asbestos that was used in the 1960s and 1970s in home insulation.  It has also been reported that recently discovered archives show that up to 10 homes in Warringah, the Hills, Bankstown and Lithgow also previously contained loose-fill asbestos, but has not identified as the Mr Fluffy brand.

She said that in light of these new reports, any concerned resident should register for a free asbestos inspection being offered in several local government areas in NSW.

“It is really important that homeowners in NSW find out if they have loose-fill asbestos in their homes and understand the risk – I urge anyone who is eligible for a free inspection to organise one,” Ms Wade said.

“Considering it is Asbestos Awareness Month, this is a timely reminder that people need to understand potential risks that might be in their homes so they can take appropriate steps to minimize it.

“When remnant asbestos fibres become airborne that is when they can be inhaled and possibly present health issues.

“Unfortunately, asbestos is more likely to be disturbed when people are completely unaware that they have it in their home.

“If any homeowners in NSW believe their home could contain Mr Fluffy asbestos or loose fill asbestos, they should not undertake renovations or do anything that could disturb asbestos fibres. They should take up the free asbestos inspection.”

Ms Wade said asbestos-related diseases such as asbestosis and mesothelioma were still a reality.  Figures in the report Mesothelioma in Australia 2013 released recently by the Australian Mesothelioma Registry showed that 158 people in NSW were told last year they had the deadly disease.

“There is still a perception that asbestos-related diseases are yesterday’s problem, when in fact that couldn’t be further from the truth,” Ms Wade said.

“We are now seeing a third wave of victims being diagnosed with this terminal illness and they’re primarily people who have been involved in home renovations and building work that involved asbestos.

“I cannot stress enough how important it is for homeowners to determine whether they have asbestos in their homes before undertaking any renovations that could disturb asbestos fibres.”

Ms Wade said the firm had an online asbestos register and urged anyone who was concerned that they have been exposed to asbestos fibres to register their details and report their possible exposure.

“It is important for people to make note of their exposure early because asbestos-related diseases, particularly mesothelioma, can take between 30 and 40 years to develop.”