Why you need to lose your loose-fill asbestos insulation
The New South Wales 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. Here’s what you should know about asbestos loose-fill insulation so you can take the necessary steps to protect your property:
What is loose-fill asbestos insulation?
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.
What makes loose-fill asbestos insulation risky?
- 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
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.
Where can you get information and factsheets?
You may refer to the NSW Fair Trading website which offers a range of supporting factsheets or contact your committee for more information. 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?
If you own or live in the affected strata property, contact your committee and find out what steps are being taken to address the issue. 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 may be the only option.
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 so you’re not left on the backfoot regarding your legal rights and financials.
Is the replacement of this type of insulation optional?
It is better to be safe than sorry – so we would recommend that you prioritise asbestos loose-fill removal because of the clear health risks 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. You should take care 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, should take care to 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 near the affected property that is undergoing remedial work or demolition, make sure to talk to your committee about your health, safety and soundness of your living conditions. If your building is undergoing renovations for asbestos loose-fill replacement, make sure to keep your neighbours in the know, well ahead in time so they can make arrangements to ensure their safety as well.
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