All urban residents are exposed to low levels of asbestos in the environment, including from natural sources, industrial material and buildings.
ACT Health advice is that the chance of developing an asbestos-related disease increases with the cumulative exposure to asbestos fibres a person breathes in during their lifetime.
|Very low risk||Low risk||Low to medium risk|
Short periods of exposure to low levels of asbestos like what might occur in visiting a house with Mr Fluffy insulation, carries an extremely low risk of developing asbestos-related illness.
The risk to care workers and service providers visiting affected homes is no different to the risk to private visitors; short periods of exposure to low-levels of asbestos carries an extremely low risk of developing asbestos-related illness.
Those who continue to visit Mr Fluffy houses should refer to their employer’s occupational health and safety guidelines, which may require risk minimisation obligations such as the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Provided that the Mr Fluffy property was maintained in good condition, the residual loose fill asbestos was left undisturbed and residents did not have direct contact with the fibres through inhalation or ingestion, the risks of residing in a Mr Fluffy home are low.
Even where residents have undertaken renovations that may have breached the ceiling or wall cavities or the underfloor spaces, the risk remains low. Short periods of exposure to loose fill asbestos, as might occur during renovations, carries a low risk of developing asbestos-related illness. The risk is even lower if Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was used.
You may be concerned about friends, family, service providers and tradespeople who visited or worked on or in your affected property. Remember that just because a person has been exposed to loose fill asbestos does not mean they will develop any asbestos related medical conditions.
Most people who develop an asbestos-related medical condition have been exposed to high concentrations of fibres, or exposed over many years, in occupational settings like mining, construction and machinery shops.
Short periods of exposure to loose fill asbestos, as might occur when working on a house with Mr Fluffy insulation, carries a low risk of developing asbestos-related illness. If you used Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as prescribed by occupational health and safety guidelines, then the risk is even lower.
ACT Asbestos Health Study
The Australian National University released a series of documents and reports outlining the results of the ACT Asbestos Health Study which examined the health effects of living in a house with loose fill asbestos insulation in the ACT.
Asbestos is a risk to health only when it is inhaled (breathed in) as fine dust. The risk to health increases with the number of fibres inhaled and with frequency of exposure. When asbestos dust is inhaled, larger fibres tend to be cleared by protective mechanisms in the lungs and upper respiratory tract. The finer fibres are more difficult to remove, and may become trapped in the lungs, or move further into the body.
There are a number of diseases that can be related to inhaled asbestos fibres:
- pleural plaques (thickening of tissue around the lungs)
- asbestosis (scarring of lung tissue)
- mesothelioma (malignant tumours that can develop around the lungs or intestine)
Smoking increases the risk of developing lung cancer following exposure to asbestos.
To date, most people who have developed asbestos-related diseases have been exposed to a relatively large number of fibres through their work (e.g. miners, asbestos manufacturers, tradespeople).
Diseases related to the deposit and penetration of asbestos fibres can take a long time to develop after initial exposure to asbestos (i.e. typically 20 to 30 years after the first exposure, depending on the disease). Not everyone exposed to asbestos will get an asbestos-related disease.
The table below indicates the low prevalence of mesothelioma for ACT residents when compared with more common forms of cancer.
Age-standardised incidence rates for mesothelioma and common cancers that affect both males and females, ACT, 2014
|Cancer||Incidence per 100,000 population|
|Melanoma of the skin||40.1|
- Your Health and Loose Fill Asbestos (565.5 KB)
- ACT Health Asbestos fact sheet
- Australian Mesothelioma Registry (AMR) publications and reports
Find out more about:
- homeowner and occupier responsibilities
- affected properties
- health and wellbeing support
- WorkSafe ACT
- list of licensed asbestos assessors
- National Asbestos Exposure Register
Contact us for more information.