Mr Fluffy Demolitions Begin in NSW
The first house containing loose fill asbestos ceiling insulation, commonly known as Mr Fluffy, has been demolished in Queanbeyan in the NSW Southern Tablelands. So far the government has identified 136 affected homes in NSW, with over 1,000 homes previously identified in the ACT.
Most of the homes in NSW containing loose fill asbestos insulation have been located in the South of the state, close to the ACT, although some homes in northern Sydney council areas, such as Kurringai, Hornsby, Warringah and Manly, have been identified.
Mr Fluffy was a Canberra based company that used crushed raw asbestos to provide ceiling insulation for hundreds of homes throughout the ACT and NSW during the 1960s and 1970s. The vast majority of homes identified as containing loose fill asbestos insulation have been in Canberra, however, more recently, a small pocket of 28 local government areas in NSW have been identified as at risk of containing loose fill insulation. The NSW government currently has a free testing scheme underway whereby homeowners in select government areas may arrange to have their properties tested if it is suspected that loose fill insulation may be present in the ceiling space.
Loose fill asbestos insulation, as the name suggests, contains loose asbestos fibres that are not bonded to any other material. Asbestos of this nature is classed as being friable and carries greater risks than the more common bonded form of asbestos, such as asbestos cement sheeting. Asbestos is classed as a Group 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organisation meaning it is a substance known to cause cancer. As loose fill asbestos insulation is friable, it may be more easily disturbed by homeowners or occupants entering the ceiling cavity and these disturbed fibres may then be tracked into other areas of the home.
Not all loose fill insulation contains asbestos and instead can consist of materials including synthetic mineral fibres, organic fibres and even shredded news paper. In fact most loose fill insulation is made of materials not containing asbestos with only 136 of the 21,065 tests performed throughout NSW so far returning a positive result, Getex however recommends getting loose fill insulation tested regardless.
Loose fill ceiling insulation composed of mostly newspaper that may be commonly mistaken for Mr Fluffy ceiling insulation.
If you suspect that your home may contain loose fill insulation you should have a sample tested in a NATA accredited laboratory to confirm the presence of asbestos. Getex provides a quick and reliable testing service in our NATA accredited laboratory.
As asbestos may be present in other areas of the home and may become potentially dangerous if not cared for (e.g. by drilling into an asbestos cement wall) Getex recommends that homeowners undertake a more extensive asbestos building materials survey to identify all accessible asbestos containing materials in your home. Getex holds ISO/IEC 17020 NATA Accreditation for asbestos materials surveys therefore Getex can provide asbestos surveys to the high quality expected by NATA. Following an asbestos materials survey an asbestos register will be issued for the dwelling detailing the locations of any asbestos building materials and the risks they pose.
If your home is confirmed to contain loose fill asbestos insulation there are several options available to you. The NSW government has a Voluntary Purchase and Demolition Program. Using this program you may sell your home and land to the NSW government so that they may conduct the demolition and remediation. You may also only sell your home and retain the land so that you may rebuild at a later date after demolition of the dwelling is complete.
With over 40 years of combined management experience in the Work Health & Safety and Environmental fields, Getex is here to provide expertise and advice to homeowners and occupants when facing the possibility that their home may contain loose fill asbestos insulation. Call us on (02) 9889 2488 to arrange for a sample to be taken at your home and analysed to provide clear results as to whether or not your home contains loose fill asbestos ceiling insulation.