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Should Mr Fluffy be a cause for concern?

By 13 June 2014 31

asbestos

Another day, another report in the Canberra Times regarding a ‘Mr Fluffy’ house.

I am at a loss why the ACT Government has had very little to say on the ‘Mr Fluffy’ issue. For that matter, I’m surprised there has been very little in the way of posts on here regarding it too. Is everybody hoping this all just blows over? The health issues resulting from this are potentially enormous; not just for the residents of a loose fill asbestos house, but for tradies, friends, and families of the residents who have been in the house and possibly neighbouring houses.

There is no standardisation over the assessment or removal process, nor is there any public information available regarding health assessment of residents. As far as I understand it, this problem doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. Mr Fluffy was the only company to use this type of loose fill asbestos.

If you are renting, you may not know if you are in a Mr Fluffy house thanks to the ACT Government protecting the rights of the owners instead of considering the health implications to the renters.

As a concerned mother, it’s possible I’m blowing this out of all proportion. Is this something we should be worried about?

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31 Responses to Should Mr Fluffy be a cause for concern?
#1
Alien Fiend4:31 pm, 13 Jun 14

Of course we should worry about asbestos. We should also worry about building “inspections” which are not worth the paper they are written on and only serve a useful purpose for those who get the job to do them. The vendor just wants to sell the house and couldn’t care less and the purchaser just wants to buy the house and takes the report in good faith (and has to pay for it).

A typical comment from my last inspection report: “There was no evidence of [insert vermin/termites/asbestos/leaks etc]. This is based on visual inspection [visual?] and this does not mean that [insert vermin/termites ..... etc] is/are not present …. Oh, and if they are, it ain’t our fault”. $750 please – it was some time ago.

According to the CT report, the Lyons house had open penetrations. I’d like to know who inspected that property so that I can at least avoid that company next time I sell.

I feel very sorry for the Ross family. That have been dudded by a stupid system.

#2
sepi5:49 pm, 13 Jun 14

The ACT was under federal control when the Mr Fluffy houses were cleaned out. the process is now shown to be incomplete and the feds should step in (or be sued to do so) and fix them up again – or demolish.

#3
switch5:50 pm, 13 Jun 14

Alien Fiend said :

A typical comment from my last inspection report: “There was no evidence of [insert vermin/termites/asbestos/leaks etc]. This is based on visual inspection [visual?] and this does not mean that [insert vermin/termites ..... etc] is/are not present …. Oh, and if they are, it ain’t our fault”. $750 please – it was some time ago.

I got the same building report (and I don’t think I was buying your house).

Asbestos is a worry. Anyone growing up until the seventies walking on a main road would have breathed in asbestos fibres from the brake linings of all trucks and cars. Trains used them too. Anyone walking on the main roads in Asia now is still getting it. The Mr Fluffy nonsense has made a lot of homes in the ACT very hard to sell or even work on. The cleaning process seems to have created a lot of undocumented asbestos dumps around the ACT, many new housing estates being held up when they find one. What are we going to do?

#4
banco6:42 pm, 13 Jun 14

Leaving aside the health concerns if your house has it you won’t be able to sell it. So yeah that would be a worry.

#5
HiddenDragon7:02 pm, 13 Jun 14

sepi said :

The ACT was under federal control when the Mr Fluffy houses were cleaned out. the process is now shown to be incomplete and the feds should step in (or be sued to do so) and fix them up again – or demolish.

Nice as that would be, it’s highly unlikely that this, or any future federal government would pay all, or even a substantial part of the cost – pushing self-government onto the ACT was primarily about saving money for the federal budget, and offloading all the local liabilites that go with this town.

I think the problem is so big, and so horrible, that the ACT Government really doesn’t want to know about it. In the meantime, anyone buying a home old enough to have had loose fill asbestos in it is taking a chance.

#6
Tezza74209:17 am, 14 Jun 14

I’m surprised too as this is a very bid deal for all Canberrans not just the owners of these houses. This stuff is not like normal asbestos sheeting and it wasn’t used like this anywhere else in the world. IT’S REALLY BAD STUFF!

Most likely nearly everyone in Canberra will have come in contact with a Mr Fluffy house. You might be a neighbour, a visitor, an emergency worker, or have received or bought something that was once in a Mr Fluffy home and of course everyone knows of the risks for tenants and tradespeople.

There is a Fluffy Owners and Residents Action Group website at http://www.fluffyaction.com/390249636 and a Friends of Fluffy Owners Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/fluffyaction where you can read more information and read about the stories of affected homeowners.

The poor owners either bought these houses not even knowing about this stuff or they were told by the Government that it had been “safely” removed. Now many are finding that this stuff is all through their houses and their contents, underneath their houses and even that the soil on their property is contaminated. If the homeowners are “lucky” enough to stay in their houses, they can’t even get minor work done like changing lights or power points or even putting a nail hole in a wall. Many of these owners look like they are increasingly isolating themselves from the community because they don’t want to invite people in, let other children play with their own and can’t talk to anyone about their problem.

#7
gazket3:15 pm, 14 Jun 14

Building inspectors are not asbestos inspectors so will have a get out clause if asbestos is found. You really need an extra asbestos inspection report. And then you need a good inspector because OHS laws will prevent some inspectors looking above 2.4m if they don’t have height safe training so they will also have a get out height clause.

The Australian government says asbestos isn’t found in houses after 1985 when really it’s 1988 and still after that some maybe found as asbestos products were still able to be sold until 2000 so companies could clear stock.

They whole asbestos thing is one big circle jerk. As far as laws go you’re better of not reporting you found asbestos as you who got caught with the parcel last will bear all the costs even if it means sending you bankrupt.

#8
screaming banshee6:22 pm, 14 Jun 14

After moving to canberra as a tradesman who could well have ended up knee deep in the stuff, I didn’t hear about mr fluffy until I had been here for about 4 years, even now other trades I speak with have little knowledge of its existence.

As a minimum we need an education campaign and legal requirements for affected homes to have a warning notice. Ideally these houses should be purchased by the govt at market rate to be dismantled safely. Then the land, once cleared, to be sold off to recoup some the costs.

#9
John Moulis10:43 am, 15 Jun 14

I remember in early 1979 I was the mailroom boy at Superannuation Fund Investment Trust, part of Dept of Finance. I had to open the mail and attach distribution lists before delivering it to the relevant officers. One of the companies we invested in was James Hardie and a few weeks earlier The Sun Herald had published an article about asbestos being “a possible health risk”. Hardies sent us a copy of their latest prospectus with a pamphlet titled “Asbestos – Scotching the Myths”. It’s a pity I didn’t snaffle the pamphlet at the time because I’m sure it would be very amusing reading nowadays.

#10
switch11:34 am, 15 Jun 14

John Moulis said :

Hardies sent us a copy of their latest prospectus with a pamphlet titled “Asbestos – Scotching the Myths”. It’s a pity I didn’t snaffle the pamphlet at the time because I’m sure it would be very amusing reading nowadays.

Just get any similarly purposed tobacco pamphlet and substitute the word asbestos…

#11
JC12:16 pm, 15 Jun 14

switch said :

The cleaning process seems to have created a lot of undocumented asbestos dumps around the ACT, many new housing estates being held up when they find one. What are we going to do?

Actually most of the dumps that have been found are building waste dumps from when Canberra was being built, rather than asbestos dumps. Though yes they contain asbestos. For the most part the dumps contain asbestos sheeting, which is found in most Canberra homes built before the mid 80′s.

In fact I would say the biggest threat from asbestos is the rise in the home renovator.

#12
Weaselburger1:45 pm, 15 Jun 14

Actually you will find that there are many policies and procedures legislated for the detection, management and removal of asbestos covered in the Work Health and safety Act 2011 which apply to both commercial and residential buildings… info for the A.C.T can be found at:

http://www.asbestos.act.gov.au/

#13
IslandDreaming10:26 pm, 15 Jun 14

Weaselburger said :

Actually you will find that there are many policies and procedures legislated for the detection, management and removal of asbestos covered in the Work Health and safety Act 2011 which apply to both commercial and residential buildings… info for the A.C.T can be found at:

http://www.asbestos.act.gov.au/

Thanks for the information. If this is correct, then there are significant deficiencies in monitoring the removal specialists. There are reported cases of assessors using false detection techniques and remidiators using dodgy methods. The governments (federal and state), have not taken any action against these companies who are taking advantage of those in need. Some of these companies are listed by ACTPLA with class A licences.

#14
candelabra1:34 pm, 16 Jun 14

This article has popped up at exactly the moment I was looking into the issue of asbestos. Can anyone advise the best way to get an accurate report of whether or not there is asbestos present in my house?

#15
gazket5:00 pm, 16 Jun 14

candelabra said :

This article has popped up at exactly the moment I was looking into the issue of asbestos. Can anyone advise the best way to get an accurate report of whether or not there is asbestos present in my house?

if your house is pre 1988 check the bathroom, toilet ,laundry, kitchen areas. If it’s fibro, dimpled on the back it’s asbestos sheeting.
Old style timber joining/cover strips, probably joining asbestos sheeting.
Old vinyl tiles with black glue. The glue is probably asbestos.
Sheeting behind, beside, underneath old oil heaters probably asbestos sheeting.
Old electrical wiring insulated in cloth, the cloth is most likely asbestos cloth.
Dark blue fluffy insulation probably Mr Fluffy.
Old wavy profile ( super 66 ) roof sheeting is asbestos.

And just recently 2011 2012 Chery and Great Wall cars over 30 gaskets that contain asbestos.

#16
Sunny1:59 pm, 17 Jun 14

This issue won’t blow over. Now that is has finally come to a head after 20 years of cover up people now can’t sell or even in a few cases live in their homes any more. A letter was issued to owners by the Work Place minister in February basically saying congratulations as you know you own a toxic house. You need an expensive asbestos assessment to have any work done to protect the workers. No mention of health risks for residents. With the houses unsalable it is like unknowingly playing a really deadly game of hot potato and now that it has stopped the current owners are left holding worthless properties that are a health hazard.

Once the wider Canberra community better understands this issue there will be more outrage. The clean up conducted was inadequate and the cost was the price of just knocking down and rebuilding the houses then. If 1000+ homes are affected how many visitors, tradesman etc have visited those homes exposing themselves. Some donated clothes from wardrobes contaminated with fibers must have made their way to the racks of Vinnies and other charities over the years. It would be hard to have lived in Canberra and not had some exposure to the asbestos fibers.

Whatever information the owners were given after the clean up has been lost when homes were sold. Why would owners volunteer that information if it would reduce the value of their home? Who would knowingly pick the home that had residual carcinogenic fibers in the walls, cornices and subfloors?

The poster is not blowing the out of proportion. All you need to do is read the community comments on the Fluffy Action web site http://www.fluffyaction.com/390249636 to see the impact this is having. The lady in the Canberra times this week had to call the parents of her children’s friends to let them know they had come over to play in a house unknowing contaminated by friable asbestos. Conservatively say each child had five friends that is already 15 other children alone exposed by the one house.

The government has not acted yet for it will be a very expensive issue again to fix. The only solution is knocking the homes down and decontaminating the land. These houses can’t be safely maintained as they age without ridiculous expense which most owners can’t afford. It has already been shown by the last cleanup effort that it can never be removed and just migrates throughout the cavities like deadly sand in an hourglass.

#17
Cerdig5:51 pm, 17 Jun 14

It’s hard to believe that Mr Fluffy in Canberra was the only insulation business in the whole country using that stuff.

#18
Sunny9:18 am, 18 Jun 14

The problem is unique to Canberra, Queanbeyan and a few South Coast homes for the asbestos product was imported by Mr Fluffy. Interesting article in the Age today. Looks like this serious issue is being given the attention is deserves:

http://www.theage.com.au/act-news/commonwealth-hope-for-families-dispossessed-by-mr-fluffy-asbestos-20140617-zsays.html

#19
Tezza74206:36 pm, 18 Jun 14

Cerdig said :

It’s hard to believe that Mr Fluffy in Canberra was the only insulation business in the whole country using that stuff.

The problem is unique in the whole world.

Many people posting here have demonstrated that they don’t understand how unique and how serious the Fluffy issue is for the whole of Canberra.

Today I read that the Government is going to require Fluffy homeowners to tell tradespeople that their home is a Fluffy home. Sensible enough on the surface but I can see this failing for lots of reasons.

#20
Anti10:48 pm, 18 Jun 14

I grew up in a Mr Fluffy home in Curtin. we had it removed (roof off and sealed up for 8 weeks) back in 1989/90. we used to play and hide each other’s toys in the roof as kids. if we get sick in another 10-20 years do you think we will be compensated. NO, I bet.

#21
Ray Polglaze2:51 am, 19 Jun 14

Having seen a close relative die from mesothelioma, I think the position with Mr Fluffy Houses is simple. If you are living in a Mr Fluffy House, get out, stop living in it. If that means you go bankrupt, so be it. Don’t wait around while Mr Corbell to consider realistic costs and financial arrangements and what the ACT Government might do. To do that is to risk an early and very cruel death. It’s that blunt and straight forward.

#22
Cerdig4:24 am, 19 Jun 14

Once you tell people they may be breathing deadly fibres if they come through the front door it will be near impossible to get tradesmen, or incredibly expensive. I really feel for the poor owners.

It’s an utter catastrophe. One way or another those homes are going to have to be removed and the owners compensated.

#23
screaming banshee6:39 am, 19 Jun 14

Sunny said :

The problem is unique to Canberra, Queanbeyan and a few South Coast homes for the asbestos product was imported by Mr Fluffy. Interesting article in the Age today. Looks like this serious issue is being given the attention is deserves:

http://www.theage.com.au/act-news/commonwealth-hope-for-families-dispossessed-by-mr-fluffy-asbestos-20140617-zsays.html

Problem is the Queanbeyan and south coast homes were never professionally removed. There’s a story from a south coast house they did some renos a few years back and just picked all the stuff up by hand, filled their trailer and drove it to the tip…no control measures whatsoever. NSW govt won’t pitch funds for the cleaning. It’s looking like the Feds are going to do something for the ACT, the NSW govt would want to get on the bandwagon now because I can’t see this getting the same level of attention again if the act issues are addressed to a reasonable standard.

#24
Tezza74207:33 am, 19 Jun 14

Cerdig said :

Once you tell people they may be breathing deadly fibres if they come through the front door it will be near impossible to get tradesmen, or incredibly expensive.

I really feel for the poor owners.

It’s an utter catastrophe. One way or another those homes are going to have to be removed and the owners compensated.

Why the front door? What about as soon as the tradespeople step over the property line. Perhaps tradespeople will have to be told when they are phoned to come out and quote for work. Perhaps neighbours of Fluffy houses will have to tell their tradespeople that they would be working on a house next door to a Fluffy house as well.

On the other hand, why the need to tell a tradesperson if they are not doing work that is relevant to the house being a Fluffy house (eg landscapers, or someone working in a house extension that is unrelated to the original Mr Fluffy house)? And then, if the owner is left to make the decision of whether the work is relevant or, even, whether a person is a “tradesperson” (for example, would a window washer be considered a tradesperson), how easy will it be for that go wrong?

If all tradespeople have to be told that they would be working on a Fluffy house even if their work is irrelevant, why stop there. Why won’t the owners have to tell all visitors to the house. Perhaps there should be a sign put up at the front of the property warning door knockers and Jehovah’s witnesses even.

#25
John Moulis11:27 am, 19 Jun 14

Anti said :

I grew up in a Mr Fluffy home in Curtin. we had it removed (roof off and sealed up for 8 weeks) back in 1989/90. we used to play and hide each other’s toys in the roof as kids. if we get sick in another 10-20 years do you think we will be compensated. NO, I bet.

Sorry to double post but when I was at Melrose High in the early 1970s the school was full of it. The classrooms on the top floor had sound absorbent waffle-type tiles as the ceiling and when you walked into the rooms on Monday morning there was a thin film of asbestos dust on the desktops. In the corridors were heavy fire doors filled with asbestos. Several of them were in disrepair and had the wood veneer either partially missing or stuck on with masking tape. Then there were the asbestos grilles we placed over the bunsen burners in science class. Does anybody else have memories of living with asbestos as kids?

#26
Cerdig4:53 pm, 19 Jun 14

Tezza7420 said :

Cerdig said :

Once you tell people they may be breathing deadly fibres if they come through the front door it will be near impossible to get tradesmen, or incredibly expensive.

I really feel for the poor owners.

It’s an utter catastrophe. One way or another those homes are going to have to be removed and the owners compensated.

Why the front door? What about as soon as the tradespeople step over the property line. Perhaps tradespeople will have to be told when they are phoned to come out and quote for work. Perhaps neighbours of Fluffy houses will have to tell their tradespeople that they would be working on a house next door to a Fluffy house as well.

On the other hand, why the need to tell a tradesperson if they are not doing work that is relevant to the house being a Fluffy house (eg landscapers, or someone working in a house extension that is unrelated to the original Mr Fluffy house)? And then, if the owner is left to make the decision of whether the work is relevant or, even, whether a person is a “tradesperson” (for example, would a window washer be considered a tradesperson), how easy will it be for that go wrong?

If all tradespeople have to be told that they would be working on a Fluffy house even if their work is irrelevant, why stop there. Why won’t the owners have to tell all visitors to the house. Perhaps there should be a sign put up at the front of the property warning door knockers and Jehovah’s witnesses even.

I don’t think you really understood my point, which was that once a list of Fluffy house gets around the places will become unrentable, unsellable no-go zones. In the long run, they will end up derelict unless they are demolished.

I am not saying the list should be kept secret, people have a right to know, but the owners should be compensated and helped to deal with the problem.

#27
banco5:11 pm, 19 Jun 14

Cerdig said :

Tezza7420 said :

Cerdig said :

Once you tell people they may be breathing deadly fibres if they come through the front door it will be near impossible to get tradesmen, or incredibly expensive.

I really feel for the poor owners.

It’s an utter catastrophe. One way or another those homes are going to have to be removed and the owners compensated.

Why the front door? What about as soon as the tradespeople step over the property line. Perhaps tradespeople will have to be told when they are phoned to come out and quote for work. Perhaps neighbours of Fluffy houses will have to tell their tradespeople that they would be working on a house next door to a Fluffy house as well.

On the other hand, why the need to tell a tradesperson if they are not doing work that is relevant to the house being a Fluffy house (eg landscapers, or someone working in a house extension that is unrelated to the original Mr Fluffy house)? And then, if the owner is left to make the decision of whether the work is relevant or, even, whether a person is a “tradesperson” (for example, would a window washer be considered a tradesperson), how easy will it be for that go wrong?

If all tradespeople have to be told that they would be working on a Fluffy house even if their work is irrelevant, why stop there. Why won’t the owners have to tell all visitors to the house. Perhaps there should be a sign put up at the front of the property warning door knockers and Jehovah’s witnesses even.

I don’t think you really understood my point, which was that once a list of Fluffy house gets around the places will become unrentable, unsellable no-go zones. In the long run, they will end up derelict unless they are demolished.

They shouldn’t be sold or rented in their current condition.

#28
Tezza74206:48 pm, 19 Jun 14

Cerdig said :

Tezza7420 said :

Cerdig said :

Once you tell people they may be breathing deadly fibres if they come through the front door it will be near impossible to get tradesmen, or incredibly expensive.

I really feel for the poor owners.

It’s an utter catastrophe. One way or another those homes are going to have to be removed and the owners compensated.

Why the front door? What about as soon as the tradespeople step over the property line. Perhaps tradespeople will have to be told when they are phoned to come out and quote for work. Perhaps neighbours of Fluffy houses will have to tell their tradespeople that they would be working on a house next door to a Fluffy house as well.

On the other hand, why the need to tell a tradesperson if they are not doing work that is relevant to the house being a Fluffy house (eg landscapers, or someone working in a house extension that is unrelated to the original Mr Fluffy house)? And then, if the owner is left to make the decision of whether the work is relevant or, even, whether a person is a “tradesperson” (for example, would a window washer be considered a tradesperson), how easy will it be for that go wrong?

If all tradespeople have to be told that they would be working on a Fluffy house even if their work is irrelevant, why stop there. Why won’t the owners have to tell all visitors to the house. Perhaps there should be a sign put up at the front of the property warning door knockers and Jehovah’s witnesses even.

I don’t think you really understood my point, which was that once a list of Fluffy house gets around the places will become unrentable, unsellable no-go zones. In the long run, they will end up derelict unless they are demolished.

I am not saying the list should be kept secret, people have a right to know, but the owners should be compensated and helped to deal with the problem.

I understood your point perfectly. My point was that any solution (such as the one that the Government is now considering), other than demolition and site cleaning, will ultimately fail.

#29
Maya12311:51 pm, 24 Jun 14

It’s been said here about loose asbestos, “The problem is unique in the whole world.” A quick net search reveals it is a problem in other places too. These two links are to the UK.
http://www.midlandsasbestossolutions.co.uk/domestic/

http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/essentials/loosefill.htm

#30
creative_canberran9:50 am, 25 Jun 14

It is dangerous, in that there is no known safe exposure to brown and blue asbestos. What the danger is depends on a range of factors. For example, smoking status and other respiratory conditions will make someone more susceptible.

Generally speaking, the risk of illness is related to the concentration and time of exposure. A study of UK factory workers in the amosite textiles industry found a mortality rate of around 20% at exposures many times higher than the home owners of Mr Fluffy homes would receive. But the fact is statistics like that can only serve to hopefully offer some comfort to the owners and their families about the risk being less likely than likely, it doesn’t negate the fact it takes only one fibre potentially to cause a fatal illness. For most of the owners it may not matter that much, but enter kids into the equation who may be in the prime of their lives when the expected time for an illness to manifest arrives, and you can imagine nothing will reduce that fear.

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