Health and Wellbeing
For nearly 50 years, houses affected by loose fill asbestos insulation or Mr Fluffy have been part of the Canberra community.
Over time many people have lived in, worked on or in, provided services to, or routinely visited affected houses and are interested to understand any health risks.
There can be a range of reactions to learning you have lived in, worked on or in or even visited a property affected by loose fill asbestos insulation or Mr Fluffy. Understanding any risk is the key to establishing the potential for health effects both physical and emotional.
It is important to know that just because a person has been exposed to loose fill asbestos does not mean they will develop an asbestos related medical condition.
Understanding the risk
All urban residents are exposed to low levels of asbestos in the environment, including from natural sources, industrial material and buildings.
The ACT Chief Health Officer has advised that the chance of of developing an asbestos related disease increases with the cumulative exposure to asbestos fibres a person breathes in during their lifetime.
|VERY LOW RISK||General public - asbestos is a naturally occurring substance and the background air has a low level of asbestos fibres.|
|VERY LOW RISK||Visitors, neighbours, care and service providers to Mr Fluffy homes - short periods of exposure.|
|LOW RISK||Former residents - depending on condition of the house, length f residence, safe renovation and home maintenance activity.|
|LOW TO MEDIUM RISK||Tradespeople - short periods of exposure while working in an affected house carries a low risk and the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) reduces the risk even further. However cumulative exposure over time and/or activity undertaken can see risk increased to medium.|
Visitors, Neighbours, Care and Service Providers
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.
You can encourage your family and friends to understand the risk and and record their details with the Taskforce.
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.
- Just because a person has been exposed to loose fill asbestos does not mean they will develop an asbestos related medical condition.
- The chance of developing an asbestos related disease increases with the cumulative exposure to asbestos fibres a person breathes in during their life time.
- Asbestos is naturally occurring mineral fibres which were used extensively in products due to their strength, insulating features and resistance to fire.
- To date, most people who have developed asbestos-related diseases have been exposed to a relatively large number of fibres throughout their work (e.g miners, builders).
- People who are concerned about their health should seek advice from their general practitioner who can provide an assessment of individual circumstance and exposure risks.
For Further Information
- Check the list.
- Access supporting information, in particular:
- ACT Asbestos Health Study - Australian National University
- Dealing with the emotional impact of the Mr Fluffy legacy - presentation by Dr Rob Gordon
- Health and Support InfoSheets
- If you feel anxious or concerned access support through your General Practitioner, ACT Medicare Local on 6287 8066, Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.