Wednesday, August 26, 2009

NEWS: fears that insulation grants are fuelling asbestos exposure

Asbestos removal experts are concerned about asbestos dust being stirred up during the installation of ceiling insulation under the government’s $1600 rebate scheme.
With the revelation that asbestos-laden hessian bags have been used in carpet underlay, Queensland asbestos contractors are calling on the Federal Government to put the ceiling insulation scheme on hold because asbestos is present in many roofs and ceilings.

“The Federal Government is creating a very dangerous situation by encouraging the installation of ceiling insulation yet doing nothing to help home owners to first identify the presence of asbestos materials in their homes,”  says Trevor Lyons president of the Demolishers, Recyclers and Asbestos Contractors Association

“The government knows the health risks of being exposed to deadly asbestos fibres – it has funded the removal of asbestos from schools, in fact schools are shut down if asbestos materials are even suspected of being airborne in their environment,” he said.

“Workplaces must also have plans in place to manage asbestos so that staff, customers and visitors to a workplace are not exposed to airborne asbestos fibres – this is legislated.

“Yet the government is quite happy to send these same children home to houses that likely contain some asbestos that may be disturbed during ceiling insulation or sanded and removed during home renovations.

“This situation is not good enough and the government must make dealing with asbestos in homes a priority over the installation of ceiling insulation – we don’t need more people contracting the deadly asbestos cancer mesothelioma.

“There are about 60,000 Queensland homes with asbestos in the roof and ceiling area which could be disturbed when ceiling insulation is installed, and asbestos is likely in other parts of homes – such as carpet underlay and wall sheeting."

While asbestos contractors have a vested interest in calling for their services, it DOES seem someone needs to take control of the issue of asbestos removal in this country (which was one of the largest users of asbestos).
1. There is too much cost on each home owner to bear the problem of past installation of asbestos products. Governments have legislated strict asbestos removal laws, with little funding and NO compulsion for the original manufacturers of the asbestos products to pay.
2. Strict rules encourage illegal dumping of asbestos in bins and even on the street - don't laugh, I see broken asbestos littering the streets and gutters of Sydney - putting the entire community at risk.

3. One idea is that home owners receive a government subsidy to have a qualified, professional auditor identify where asbestos is present in their home and how it should be managed. Unfortunately, I believe there aren't enough well-trained professionals to carry out this kind of work.
4. Another idea is that all homes need to be sold with an asbestos certificate, outlining where asbestos is found in each home so new owners know it is present and how to manage it.

5. Right now, tradies that don't know or understand how common asbestos is are at risk of  being unnecessarily exposed to asbestos materials.
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