Why you need to lose your loose-fill asbestos insulation

The NSW government calls for the testing and replacement of loose-fill asbestos insulation in homes and buildings built before the 1980s. If your property was built during this time, you should get it tested for this material and choose safer insulation. While it may seem like a big ordeal, here’s why you need to lose your loose-fill asbestos insulation pronto:

  • Asbestos dust and loose fibres can move from the ceiling into the air inside your building
  • It can pollute the air within your building and impair your breathing and visibility
  • It can cause asbestosis, a silent but deadly respiratory disease that weakens your lungs over time

Loose-fill asbestos insulation is basically raw, finely-crushed asbestos that has been installed in ceiling spaces to provide insulation. This material is hard to identify visually and therefore needs to be specifically tested for its presence.

In this article, we would like to take you through the nuts and bolts of the testing and remedy process so you’re always on the front foot.


Was your property built before the 1980s?

If yes, then you should get the insulation tested immediately for the presence of loose-fill asbestos. Many NSW buildings built in the 60s and 70s commonly used asbestos loose filling as insulation material. The new regulation specifically requires the testing of these buildings.


Do if you think your property might be affected?

The NSW government maintains a registry of all the buildings built during this period along with details of their locations. You can check by street address (number, street name and suburb) on the Loose-fill Asbestos Insulation Register (LFAI Register) available on the NSW Fair Trading website to find out if your property is listed.

If you own or live in the affected property, make sure to go through a range of supporting factsheets on the NSW Fair Trading website. For strata properties, your committee members or strata manager can help you with the nuts and bolts of the factsheets as well. If needed, seek advice from a health care professional to check for any existing effects of asbestos.


Does your property test positive for this type of insulation?

Your strata manager will help you get in touch with a licensed asbestos specialist who can then get the asbestos removed and replaced with safer insulating material. Since each property may be different in terms of design, location and its upkeep, sometimes removal and replacement of this kind of insulation may not be possible for your property. In such a case, demolition of your building is the only way.


What options are being offered by the government?

To ease the burden on property owners, the NSW government has introduced the Voluntary Purchase and Demolition Program along with financial assistance. The government can buy the affected property at market value, demolish it and remedy the land.

Make sure to discuss your options with your strata committee and owners corporation so you’re not left on the backfoot regarding your legal rights and financials.


Can you opt out of replacing this type of insulation in your property?

Ideally, you should not do so because of the clear health risks of the asbestos loose-fill insulation material for anyone living and working in and around your property. If your property tests positive for this material but you choose not to participate in the program for its removal and replacement, your property will continue to be listed in the government registry as a hazard site. Also, you need to display clear warning notices around your building to ensure people are aware of the risks.


Do you work in an asbestos-affected building?

Once asbestos loose-fill insulation has been identified within a property, no work should be done by any electricians, plumbers, pest control or maintenance workers until the asbestos fillings have been removed. Anyone who is present in the premises while the asbestos removal work is in progress, must wear safety respiratory masks so as not to accidentally breathe in the material. To know more about what precautions you need to take while working in an affected home, read this article in the NSW Fair Trading website.


Do you live in an area of asbestos-affected buildings?

If you live in the area of the affected property that is undergoing remedial work or demolition, make sure to talk to your strata managers or owners corporation about your health, safety and soundness of your living conditions. The factsheet titled ‘What Building Contractors need to know about Loose-Fill Asbestos’ offers more information on the subject and can be downloaded from the NSW Fair Trading website.

For any questions around the legislation, the testing and solution process, email us at picagroup@picagroup.com.au or connect with our strata professionals today.