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January 17, 2018

SCRD sounds alarm on asbestos drywall

Drywall that contains asbestos could end up in the woods unless action is taken at all steps of the disposal process, the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) worried at its March 1 infrastructure services committee.

The committee sounded the alarm over what it saw as an impending problem in hazardous waste disposal, calling for a meeting of stakeholders at all levels of the disposal process and requesting the provincial government take action.

Last October, drywall recycler New West Gypsum (NWGR) implemented a new screening process for materials entering the facility in order to comply with a WorkSafe BC order.

The new screening method has meant fines for first and second offenders delivering drywall found to contain asbestos to the recycler. A third offence can mean “a permanent ban from any and all NWGR facilities.”

Loads of drywall delivered to SCRD landfills have been routed to NWGR for processing.

Like many landfills in the province, the SCRD has moved toward recycling in response to evidence that land-filled gypsum, a product that can easily be re-used, tends to produce toxic gases as it breaks down.

Drywall made before 1984 is more likely to contain asbestos in the joint compound. To avoid losing access to its recycler in Vancouver, the SCRD will need to find a way to separate the possibly hazardous materials from the clean.

“That’s the problem,” said sustainable service manager Dion Whyte. “I think the solution here really is to get mechanisms in place further up the supply chain where we’re actually dealing with this stuff as it’s coming out of homes.”

One option is to purchase expensive screening equipment like a handheld infrared analyzer, which can cost as much as $30,000.

Another, cheaper option is to refuse pre-1984 gypsum at the landfill altogether.

But that could increase the risk, as ultimately drywall that contains asbestos must be treated at a hazardous materials incinerator before being land-filled – generating worry that the materials could end up illegally dumped in the woods, rather than shipped to Swan Hills, Alta. where such a facility operates.

On the Sunshine Coast, one company that is qualified to carry out asbestos removal from buildings is Solution Based Construction.

“We don’t want it ending up in our woods,” said owner Darren Kopeck. “The biggest thing is the documentation that has to follow each piece of drywall around and make sure it is clean. If it isn’t, it doesn’t get taken.”

Once asbestos is identified in a home or building, the owner must hire someone like Kopeck to carry out the tedious process of removal while abiding by strict safety standards.

Disposal means hiring another company to transport the hazardous material to a facility as far as Swan Hills, where the waste is burned at high temperatures. The added cost could increase the likelihood of the materials simply being illegally dumped instead.

“We can take most types of hazardous waste, but it just comes down to what’s practical,” said Zoltan Nevelos, technical sales representative with the Swan Hills Treatment Centre.

Nevelos dismissed rumours that the facility would be closing its doors to customers in B.C., but said the distance and difficulty of transporting the waste could make incineration an impractical option.

Over at NWGR, spokesperson Cheryl McKitterick said the new policy is designed to protect employees, and screening procedures can be avoided by having proper documentation.

But, said McKitterick, “the ramification of this is causing some significant potential of escalating issues in different municipalities.”

The fines are designed to target contractors, and so far one has been issued.


© Copyright 2015 Coast Reporter

Original source:  

SCRD sounds alarm on asbestos drywall

Asbestos found in NSW home as free testing widens in Mr Fluffy saga

The first property to test positive for loose-fill asbestos as part of the NSW government’s free testing program has been identified.

The property is located within the Berrigan Shire Council area, an agricultural area in the southern Riverina – halfway between Albury and Echuca.

It is the first home to provide a positive result since the NSW government began offering free voluntary roof insulation testing in August last year. So far, 630 tests across the state have been completed. The Berrigan property brings to 58 the number of NSW homes found to contain loose-fill asbestos. These include 14 houses and one block of 38 units in Queanbeyan, a home in the Yass Valley, one in Bungendore, one in Lithgow, one in Parramatta and one in Manly.

Three other affected homes have been demolished. All those properties were identified via historical records, prior to the positive Berrigan test.

Last August the Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct an independent investigation into the number of NSW properties affected by loose-fill asbestos supplied by two known companies, the ACT’s Mr Fluffy and a second contractor Bowsers Asphalt, which was targeting large non-residential buildings in NSW.

A spokesman for the NSW government said a technical assessment would now be conducted on the positive asbestos sample to try and determine its origin.

A total of 1752 properties across 26 NSW Local Government Areas have registered for the free testing program which will run until August.

The newly discovered home will also be subject to an asbestos assessment to advise owners whether the living spaces are adequately sealed and whether “asbestos pathways (are) appropriately controlled”.

The Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities said “testing of homes with loose-fill asbestos insulation has shown that exposure is likely to be very low if the asbestos is undisturbed and remains sealed off at all points where entry of asbestos into living areas can occur, including cornices, architraves, around vents, light fittings, manholes and the tops of cupboards.”

NSW residents who are living in homes built before 1980 can register online or call Service NSW to see if they are eligible to have their property tested.

In December, the NSW government announced an inquiry into the potential demolition of loose asbestos-affected homes, in line with action taken by the ACT government.

NSW Finance Minister Dominic Perrottet also announced a financial assistance package for NSW residents who were confirmed to have Mr Fluffy in their homes, providing the same levels of assistance as in the ACT.

See the original post: 

Asbestos found in NSW home as free testing widens in Mr Fluffy saga

Tough new ACT government rules for asbestos removers and assessors start to come into play

ACT Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe.

ACT Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe. Photo: Karleen Minney

The ACT government’s new rules for builders and asbestos handlers began to be introduced on Thursday, making formal training mandatory for those taking part on the territory’s mammoth battle with asbestos.

After a year of controversy over the handling of loose asbestos fibres in the capital’s 1021 Mr Fluffy homes, the new rules were endorsed in industry codes on Thursday after they were first announced in November.

The key changes close up more loopholes in the ACT laws, allowing unlicensed people to handle asbestos.

“In the other states and territories [in some specific cases] it can be dealt with by a ‘competent person’ and we have removed that and in our case it must be done by a licensed assessor,” Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe said.

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Another of these loopholes is one that allowed builders to remove up to 10-square-metres of bonded asbestos from homes from the start of 2015.

The old rules were designed so builders could deal with small jobs such as removing asbestos wallboard for bathroom renovations.

The removal of bonded asbestos will now have to be done by a licensed asbestos removalist.

The changes also lift the qualifications and training required to assess and remove asbestos.

Applicants for licences will have additional requirements to apply for and keep licences.

Mr McCabe said the introduction would improve worker protections. “I would call it Work Health and Safety regulations plus, we’ve taken the ones from around the country and strengthened them in some key areas largely because of our experiences with Mr Fluffy,” Mr McCabe said.

This also means that from January 1, the ACT was brought into line with other states and territories, making it easier for outside workers and companies to work in the ACT.

This is because the rules move asbestos handling to the Work Health and Safety Act which Mr McCabe said has now been harmonised around the country.

“So it brings our regulations and our code of practise in line, and it makes it easier for us to regulator assessors and removalists who come in from interstate,” he said.

Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations Mick Gentleman is expected to endorse the two improved codes on Friday.

He said the codes would “provide practical advice” to industry on meeting higher asbestos standards.

“The new safety laws focus on equipping industry professionals, regulators and the community with the information, education and oversight needed to prevent people being exposed to asbestos,” Mr Gentleman said.

The crackdown on handling of asbestos in homes will come into play at various points from January 1.

Back in October Employment Minister Eric Abetz announced that the Commonwealth would lend the ACT government government $1 billion to to buy back and demolish the homes containing Mr Fluffy asbestos.

Two hundred homes are set to be demolished a year for the next five years from January 2015, and soft furnishings in houses will also have to be destroyed.

Link – 

Tough new ACT government rules for asbestos removers and assessors start to come into play

Tough new ACT goverment rules for asbestos removers and assessors start to come into play

ACT Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe.

ACT Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe. Photo: Karleen Minney

The ACT government’s new rules for builders and asbestos handlers began to be introduced on Thursday, making formal training mandatory for those taking part on the territory’s mammoth battle with asbestos.

After a year of controversy over the handling of loose asbestos fibres in the capital’s 1021 Mr Fluffy homes, the new rules were endorsed in industry codes on Thursday after they were first announced in November.

The key changes close up more loopholes in the ACT laws, allowing unlicensed people to handle asbestos.

“In the other states and territories [in some specific cases] it can be dealt with by a ‘competent person’ and we have removed that and in our case it must be done by a licensed assessor,” Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe said.

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Another of these loopholes is one that allowed builders to remove up to 10-square-metres of bonded asbestos from homes from the start of 2015.

The old rules were designed so builders could deal with small jobs such as removing asbestos wallboard for bathroom renovations.

The removal of bonded asbestos will now have to be done by a licensed asbestos removalist.

The changes also lift the qualifications and training required to assess and remove asbestos.

Applicants for licences will have additional requirements to apply for and keep licences.

Mr McCabe said the introduction would improve worker protections. “I would call it Work Health and Safety regulations plus, we’ve taken the ones from around the country and strengthened them in some key areas largely because of our experiences with Mr Fluffy,” Mr McCabe said.

This also means that from January 1, the ACT was brought into line with other states and territories, making it easier for outside workers and companies to work in the ACT.

This is because the rules move asbestos handling to the Work Health and Safety Act which Mr McCabe said has now been harmonised around the country.

“So it brings our regulations and our code of practise in line, and it makes it easier for us to regulator assessors and removalists who come in from interstate,” he said.

Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations Mick Gentleman is expected to endorse the two improved codes on Friday.

He said the codes would “provide practical advice” to industry on meeting higher asbestos standards.

“The new safety laws focus on equipping industry professionals, regulators and the community with the information, education and oversight needed to prevent people being exposed to asbestos,” Mr Gentleman said.

The crackdown on handling of asbestos in homes will come into play at various points from January 1.

Back in October Employment Minister Eric Abetz announced that the Commonwealth would lend the ACT government government $1 billion to to buy back and demolish the homes containing Mr Fluffy asbestos.

Two hundred homes are set to be demolished a year for the next five years from January 2015, and soft furnishings in houses will also have to be destroyed.

See the original article here – 

Tough new ACT goverment rules for asbestos removers and assessors start to come into play

NSW Government should buy and demolish 5300 homes with Mr Fluffy insulation: report

Moving on: Chris and Charmaine Sims with their son Zac and daughter Alma. They are leaving Mr Fluffy behind after buying a new home in Kambah in the ACT.

Moving on: Chris and Charmaine Sims with their son Zac and daughter Alma. They are leaving Mr Fluffy behind after buying a new home in Kambah in the ACT. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

More than 5300 NSW homes may be riddled with deadly Mr Fluffy asbestos insulation and the state government should demolish and buy affected properties, a parliamentary report has found.

The findings, unanimously supported by government, Labor and crossbench MPs, leave the Baird government potentially facing a $5 billion bill should it follow the Australian Capital Territory government’s lead and buy back the homes.

Mr Fluffy is the former contractor that used loose-fill asbestos fibres for roof insulation in homes in Canberra and parts of NSW in the 1960s and 1970s. There are fears that the fibres pose acute health risks.

NSW authorities are investigating how many properties contain loose-fill insulation. The report said 59 homes have been identified so far “with the potential for there to be many hundreds more”.

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PricewaterhouseCoopers has been commissioned to investigate the extent of Mr Fluffy fibres in NSW. An interim report said that, based on the firm’s installation capacity, up to 5376 homes may contain the insulation.

Using a different calculation, based on the distance between Canberra and affected NSW council areas, the assessors found up to 1110 homes may be affected. Their report said the discrepancy between the figures highlighted the need for further investigation.

The parliamentary report condemned “historic inaction of successive NSW governments in responding to this issue”. The gravity of evidence received by the inquiry promoted the report to be released two months earlier than expected.

It found the presence of loose-fill asbestos fibres rendered a home “ultimately uninhabitable”, posing risks to residents, visitors and the public.

The report recommended a statewide buy-back and demolition scheme for all affected residences, based on the ACT model.

The federal government is providing a concessional loan of up to $1 billion to the ACT to buy back and demolish about 1000 houses affected by Mr Fluffy. The NSW government may face a bill five times that, if the cost is extrapolated to the PricewaterhouseCoopers worst-case estimate.

The federal government has refused financial assistance to NSW, saying legal responsibility for affected homes lies with the state government.

The parliamentary report said owners of Mr Fluffy homes should be legally required to disclose that their home is affected, so prospective buyers are informed.

It also called for affected NSW properties to be tagged to protect tradespeople and emergency services workers. In the case where home occupants wished to immediately leave their homes, financial assistance for crisis accommodation and short-term remediation work should be provided, the report said.

Free ceiling inspections are presently available for NSW properties built before 1980 in areas thought to be affected. The report said such testing should be mandatory – potentially involving tens of thousands of homes.

Twenty-six NSW council areas have been identified as potentially affected by loose-fill asbestos. In Sydney, they include Manly, Parramatta, North Sydney, Ku-ring-gai, Bankstown, Warringah and The Hills councils.

A spokesman for Finance and Services Minister Dominic Perrottet said the government would consider the report.

See more here: 

NSW Government should buy and demolish 5300 homes with Mr Fluffy insulation: report

Feds say cleanup of Montana mining town working

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A long-delayed risk study released Monday for a Montana mining town where hundreds of people have died from asbestos poisoning concludes cleanup practices now in place are reducing risks to residents.

However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged there is no way to remove all the asbestos from the area and inhaling even a minute amount could cause lung problems.

The 328-page draft document will be used to guide the remaining cleanup of asbestos dust stemming from a W.R. Grace & Co. vermiculite mine outside Libby, a town of 2,600 people about 50 miles south of the Canada border.

The scenic mountain community has become synonymous with asbestos dangers. Health workers estimate 400 people have been killed and more than 2,000 sickened in Libby and the surrounding area.

Dozens of sites across the U.S. received or processed vermiculite from Libby’s mine, which was used as insulation in millions of homes.

The EPA study used lung scarring — not just cancer deaths — to help determine how much danger asbestos poses to people who remain in Libby, where the contaminated vermiculite had been widely used in homes, as construction fill, and for other purposes before its dangers were known.

The EPA already has conducted cleanup work on more than 2,000 homes, businesses and other properties in the Libby area at a cost of roughly $500 million.

Concentrations of asbestos in the air around town is now 100,000 times lower than when the mine was operating from 1963 to 1990, the EPA said.

Those levels could be higher at the mine site — where cleanup work has barely started — and in areas where property owners have not given access to EPA contractors, the agency said.

“Where EPA has conducted cleanup, those cleanups are effective,” said Rebecca Thomas, EPA project manager in Libby.

She added that there will be some residual contamination left behind but only in places where officials determine there’s no threat of human exposure.

“As long as no one’s exposed to it, it doesn’t pose a risk and we’ll leave it in place,” Thomas said.

W.R. Grace and industry groups have criticized the EPA’s low threshold for exposure as unjustified and impossible to attain. They said the EPA limit was lower than naturally occurring asbestos levels in some places.

The criticism was one of the factors that delayed the risk study. In a report last year, the EPA’s inspector general said internal agency issues including contracting problems and unanticipated work also contributed to the delay.

W.R. Grace was “pleased to see EPA believes it has effectively managed the health risk to acceptable levels,” said Rich Badmington, a spokesman for the Columbia, Maryland-based chemical company

Still, the company believes the EPA’s threshold for exposure is too low, he said.

The town remains under a first-of-its kind public health emergency declaration issued by former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson in 2009.

Cleanup work is pending for as many as 500 homes and businesses in Libby and nearby Troy. Completing that work will take three to five years, Thomas said.

Because of the long latency period for asbestos-related diseases, it could be many years before some people in Libby develop medical complications.

Libby Mayor Doug Roll said moving forward with the study was critical for the tourism- and mining-dependent town. Roll said Libby wants to overcome its image of a poisoned community.

“Grace was the stumbling block, trying to put a bunch of their input into it,” Roll said. “We’re trying to get out from underneath this cloud and start promoting Libby as a place you can come and visit — and not worry about the air quality.”

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Feds say cleanup of Montana mining town working

Study of Montana Mining Town Says Cleanup Working

A long-delayed risk study released Monday for a Montana mining town where hundreds of people have died from asbestos poisoning concludes cleanup practices now in place are reducing risks to residents.

However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged there is no way to remove all the asbestos from the area and inhaling even a minute amount could cause lung problems.

The 328-page draft document will be used to guide the remaining cleanup of asbestos dust stemming from a W.R. Grace & Co. vermiculite mine outside Libby, a town of 2,600 people about 50 miles south of the Canada border.

The scenic mountain community has become synonymous with asbestos dangers. Health workers estimate 400 people have been killed and more than 2,000 sickened in Libby and the surrounding area.

Dozens of sites across the U.S. received or processed vermiculite from Libby’s mine, which was used as insulation in millions of homes.

The EPA study used lung scarring ? not just cancer deaths ? to help determine how much danger asbestos poses to people who remain in Libby, where the contaminated vermiculite had been widely used in homes, as construction fill, and for other purposes before its dangers were known.

The EPA already has conducted cleanup work on more than 2,000 homes, businesses and other properties in the Libby area at a cost of roughly $500 million.

Concentrations of asbestos in the air around town is now 100,000 times lower than when the mine was operating from 1963 to 1990, the EPA said.

Those levels could be higher at the mine site ? where cleanup work has barely started ? and in areas where property owners have not given access to EPA contractors, the agency said.

“Where EPA has conducted cleanup, those cleanups are effective,” said Rebecca Thomas, EPA project manager in Libby.

She added that there will be some residual contamination left behind but only in places where officials determine there’s no threat of human exposure.

“As long as no one’s exposed to it, it doesn’t pose a risk and we’ll leave it in place,” Thomas said.

W.R. Grace and industry groups have criticized the EPA’s low threshold for exposure as unjustified and impossible to attain. They said the EPA limit was lower than naturally occurring asbestos levels in some places.

The criticism was one of the factors that delayed the risk study. In a report last year, the EPA’s inspector general said internal agency issues including contracting problems and unanticipated work also contributed to the delay.

W.R. Grace was “pleased to see EPA believes it has effectively managed the health risk to acceptable levels,” said Rich Badmington, a spokesman for the Columbia, Maryland-based chemical company

Still, the company believes the EPA’s threshold for exposure is too low, he said.

The town remains under a first-of-its kind public health emergency declaration issued by former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson in 2009.

Cleanup work is pending for as many as 500 homes and businesses in Libby and nearby Troy. Completing that work will take three to five years, Thomas said.

Because of the long latency period for asbestos-related diseases, it could be many years before some people in Libby develop medical complications.

Libby Mayor Doug Roll said moving forward with the study was critical for the tourism- and mining-dependent town. Roll said Libby wants to overcome its image of a poisoned community.

“Grace was the stumbling block, trying to put a bunch of their input into it,” Roll said. “We’re trying to get out from underneath this cloud and start promoting Libby as a place you can come and visit ? and not worry about the air quality.”

Original article:

Study of Montana Mining Town Says Cleanup Working

Fletcher defends Christchurch quake repair programme

Management problems which potentially exposed workers to asbestos early in the Christchurch rebuild may also have left homeowners open to bad repair work, a report says.

A WorkSafe New Zealand investigation into the mismanagement of asbestos in Canterbury was released publicly for the first time yesterday after an Official Information Act request from 3 News.

The report, which was completed in October, found serious deficiencies in the way the Earthquake Commission (EQC) and Fletcher EQR handled asbestos repairs, with workers unaware of the risk and potentially exposed to low levels of the dangerous substance during 2011 and 2012.

The probe focused on the Canterbury Home Repair Programme (CHRP), an EQC initiative to repair thousands of homes in Christchurch with quake damage claims between $15,000 to $100,000.

Investigators found contractors rarely discussed or tested for asbestos prior to June 2012, and may have carried out work on houses with dangerous materials without testing the air.

A series of inspections also found mismatches between work records provided by Fletcher and the actual repairs visible in a number of homes, sparking wider concerns about the rebuild.

The report says asbestos management systems failed in the early stages of the rebuild and asks whether the failures continued across repair work more widely.

“It was noted a good quality management system should have detected mismatches between [Fletcher’s] records and repairs apparent on inspection,” the report reads.

“This suggests poor performance may have extended beyond asbestos management to quality management of the repairs.”

The report doesn’t detail the discrepancies and WorkSafe NZ wouldn’t elaborate yesterday, but a Fletcher spokesperson described the observation as a “one-off comment”.

“We would not agree with it,” he said. “It’s a comment that suddenly leaps out of being a report about asbestos management and lands in being a report about quality management.”

The spokesperson, who did not want to be named, said there were a “range of things” which could explain the inconsistencies as repair work sometimes deviates from the paper, where practical.

“It doesn’t tell you anything about quality because so many things changed with many [of the] repairs,” he said. “[For some people] a heck of a lot changed between the earthquakes, the initial inspection and the commencement of repairs.

“You’re asking me if this is an endemic problem, and if this suggests a widescale quality problem, and my answer is no. It’s a whole range of things, and [the evidence] doesn’t actually suggest that.”

Fletcher admitted some repairs wouldn’t be up to scratch, but that thousands of homes had been repaired since 2010 and some discontent was inevitable.

“Could you do 70-odd thousand home repairs using the existing contractor force and workforce without any quality problems? It’s a rhetorical question, but we both know what the answer is.”

Satisfaction surveys carried out by EQC since mid-2013 show around 80 to 85 percent of homeowners are happy with their repairs, the spokesperson said.

“My understanding of the historical satisfaction with home renovation and repair type activities is in general it’s quite a bit lower than that.

“Sometimes it’s not about the repairs, it’s the difference between people’s expectations and what they’re entitled to and all sorts of things like that.”

Contractors dumped hazardous waste

WorkSafe NZ also found waste from repairs may have been taken to landfills which were not approved to handle asbestos.

Investigators spoke to a number of contractors and supervisors from 35 “homes of interest”‘ during the probe and discovered many were unfamiliar with Fletcher’s policies on asbestos.

Overall they found site safety plans were seen as a “mere formality” by contractors during the early years of the CHRP, with understanding about the need for asbestos testing varying significantly.

Testing was not seen as mandatory until June 2012 and waste from repairs may have been taken to unapproved dumps.

WorkSafe NZ said it was not possible to know how much had been dumped as the material was not identified at the time.

“While all asbestos waste should be disposed of at an approved refuse site, dump operators will be well aware of the risks associated with the unapproved disposal of hazardous materials,” a spokesperson said.

“The identification and management of asbestos, which would include disposal of waste, has improved over the course of the Canterbury Home Repair Programme.”

Many contractors and supervisors refused to be interviewed for the report, with only 60 percent of lead contractors and 46 percent of Fletcher’s contract supervisors participating.

Failings, but no prosecution

Overall, investigators found a number of serious failings but decided not to prosecute.

The report stresses that the errors happened during the tumultuous activity which followed the Christchurch quakes and says the CHRP improved its systems over time.

“Its shortcomings may be attributable in part to the unprecedented nature of the CHRP, which required systems to be developed on the fly,” it reads.

“The CHRP as time proceeded appears to have contributed to the substantial rise in awareness of asbestos risks within the Canterbury rebuild.”

The most significant failings occurred in 2011 and 2012, with improvements from June 2012.

A sample of 35 home repairs, taken between May 2011 and May 2013, found contractors regularly failed to complete documentation and work was often allowed to proceed without a safety plan.

Only 12 of the sampled contractors filed a report and all failed to specify how the work would be safely carried out.

Fletcher failed to catch the inconsistences in almost all of the reports, and contractors were confused about their responsibilities. Some blamed Fletcher for failing to provide policy and accused of the company of avoiding tests due to cost, which the company denies.

Investigators later identified 35 “homes of interest” but were only able to inspect 10, and found six were home to asbestos-containing material, which contractors had failed to identify.

Only one contained traces of asbestos, likely left behind by a poor clean-up.

Health risk ‘minimal’

The report cites a number of experts who believe the risk to public health is minimal, despite the failings outlined by investigators.

An independent group, Noel Arnold and Associates, was commissioned to consider the risks of asbestos in the CHRP and found individual exposures were well below the workplace exposure standards – an average concentration of one fibre per millimetre of air every four hours.

Its work examined the risks of dry scraping a stippled ceiling, which accounts for around 80 percent of asbestos repairs in the CHRP. Other dangerous work, including plaster repair, is believed to pose a smaller risk.

“They modelled the risks using a worst-case scenario of exposure and time and did not reach a level where a single worker can be expected to develop mesothelioma or lung cancer,” the report reads.

“Testing results… showed that the levels of airborne asbestos was negligible, and that with one exception there was no asbestos residue in the homes.”

The report found the risk to homeowners was extremely small but also highlighted that the “range of individual susceptibility to hazardous and toxic substances is wide”, saying it is possible for some people to experience discomfort or illness below the exposure standards.

3 News

Original post: 

Fletcher defends Christchurch quake repair programme

NSW launches investigation of 'Mr Fluffy' asbestos

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For the 13 homes already identified, authorities will conduct detailed testing, including air monitoring and possibly asking householders to wear monitors to test the air they are breathing as they go about day-to-day tasks in their homes.

Owners of homes built before 1980 in the 14 local government areas will be able to request a free assessment over the next 12 months, to have their ceilings checked for asbestos insulation.

The chairman of the Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities, Peter Dunphy, said the testing offer might well be taken up by thousands of households, but he didn’t expect to find widespread use of the insulation.

“So far we don’t think this going to be very widespread,” he said. “We’re not really anticipating a much bigger number than we’ve already encountered, but we’ll wait to see what comes out of the investigation and what comes out of the samples that come forward.”

He conceded that some homeowners with the insulation might not come forward, but said authorities could not force themselves into people’s homes. They hoped that by offering free assessments they would encourage anyone who suspected the presence of the material to make contact.

Mr Dunphy said the Canberra experience showed removing it had not been effective (the asbestos was removed from the Canberra homes 20 years ago, but fibres have now been found in walls and elsewhere), so containment or demolition were the options facing NSW.

The survey area is highly selective. It doesn’t include all south-eastern areas, but covers the Geater Hume, Berrigan and Wagga Wagga council areas near the Victorian border, the Bega Valley, Snowy River, Cooma Monaro and Eurobodalla council areas on the south coast and the Snowy Mountains, the Palerang (including Braidwood and Bungendore), Queanbeyan, Yass Valley and Goulburn councils around Canberra, the Young council area further west, and Ku-ring-gai and North Sydney councils.

Asked how the areas were chosen, NSW authorities said the decision was made on the basis of information provided by the ACT.

An investigator will be appointed to trawl through state and local government records and follow up anecdotal information to track down any evidence of Mr Fluffy or other loose-fill asbestos companies installing the material in other homes in the 14 areas.

It is clear Mr Fluffy operated outside Canberra, and NSW Health believes a company other than Mr Fluffy may have been operating in the south-west of the state – although this could also have been an offshoot of the Canberra-based company run by Dirk Jansen, colloquially known as Mr Fluffy.

A federal government report from 1968 refers to Sydney company Bowsers Asphalt installing the product over 13 years, but authorities believe Bowsers was using a sprayed form of asbestos as a fire retardant in commercial buildings.

Anecdotal reports suggest the material might have been used in Wollongong in the 1970s, but Wollongong is not part of the survey area.

Mr Perrottet would not reveal the cost of the survey, testing and investigation, but confirmed it was being paid by the NSW government.

Mr Dunphy said similar testing of affected homes had been done in 1993, including monitoring the air householders were breathing over eight hours, and it had not found asbestos levels higher than control houses.

Queanbeyan Mayor Tim Overall welcomed the announcement as a step in the right direction. He has suggested as many as 60 homes in Queanbeyan could contain the asbestos, based on the proportion of Canberra homes affected, and said he hoped the new investigation would identify all affected properties.

Yass council director of planning and environment Chris Berry said the news was welcome, allowing residents to have their homes checked.

“At least then people know, rather than at the present time when they’re completely in the dark about whether they have a problem or they don’t have a problem,” he said. “The challenge is if there is a problem how do you manage that problem with that particular family.”

Yass council has written to the single house it knows of this week, alerting the owner to the presence of the insulation.











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NSW launches investigation of 'Mr Fluffy' asbestos

ADAO’s Sixth Congressional Staff Briefing Calls for Congress to Take Action to End Asbestos Exposure

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), the largest independent non-profit organization in the U.S. which combines education, advocacy, and community to help ensure justice for asbestos victims, will be conducting its sixth congressional briefing today in Washington, DC. Held from 12:00 – 1:00 pm EDT in the U.S. Senate Dirksen Building, the briefing will include well known asbestos experts from the medical, industrial, and environmental communities – providing more than one hundred years of knowledge within a highly educational hour.

The briefing, “Asbestos: The Impact on Public Health and the Environment”, underscores the need for meaningful asbestos reform legislation, and points to the fatal flaws in current Senate Bills: “Chemical Safety Improvement Act of 2013” (S. 1009) – a TSCA reform measure, and the “Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2014” (S. 2319), neither of which address asbestos dangers nor protect asbestos victims. The briefing will cover the latest information on the asbestos crisis, and will include experts in the field and messages from constituents.

Mesothelioma and other asbestos-caused diseases claim the lives of more than 10,000 Americans each year and imports continue. Most Americans unfortunately do not know how to recognize asbestos and do not realize that its dangers continue, even in their own homes, schools, and public buildings. In 1984, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated there were asbestos containing materials in most of the nation’s approximately 107,000 primary and secondary schools and 733,000 public and commercial buildings. During the briefing, ADAO will also call on Congress to investigate continued asbestos imports and initiate a new study to evaluate the risk of vermiculate insulation in millions of homes.

“Although many people—perhaps even Members of Congress—mistakenly believe that asbestos is a declining threat, the recent asbestos emergency within the halls of Congress should serve as a sobering reminder that this man-made disaster continues to plague unsuspecting Americans in homes, schools, and workplaces,” stated ADAO Co-Founder and President Linda Reinstein. “Both chambers of Congress have unveiled legislation to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA), which governs the use of asbestos and thousands of other chemicals. Unfortunately, instead of banning known killers like asbestos, these bills as drafted do nothing to protect the public from toxic substances and even weaken and eliminate existing safety measures. In addition, the so-called FACT Act allows liable asbestos related companies to delay recovery and deny compensation for victims, in addition to violating victims’ privacy. It is time for legislation with true asbestos reform and justice for victims, and for the additional research and education needed to protect Americans from the dangers of asbestos. Americans can’t identify asbestos or manage the risk and ADAO feels it is imperative that Congress investigates the present dangers of asbestos, especially Libby Vermiculite Insulation, which was widely used throughout our country. Enough is enough; it is time for action.”

Briefing Presenters and Topics Include:

  • Asbestos: History, Facts, and Stats – Barry Castleman, ScD, Environmental Consultant
  • Diagnosing and Treating Asbestos-Related Diseases – Christine Oliver, MD, MPH, MS, FACPM
  • Asbestos Exposures in Homes, Schools, and Workplaces – Tony Rich, Industrial Hygienist
  • Asbestos Took My Son Away – Sandra Neuenschwander, Mesothelioma Victim
  • Asbestos Impact: Medically, Legally, and TSCA Reform – Linda Reinstein, President, Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization

Despite its known dangers, there is still no global ban on asbestos, and it continues to claim lives. Exposure to asbestos, a human carcinogen, can cause mesothelioma, lung, gastrointestinal, laryngeal, and ovarian cancers; as well as non-malignant lung and pleural disorders. The World Health Organization estimates that 107,000 workers around the world will die every year of an asbestos-related disease, equaling 300 deaths per day.

About the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) was founded by asbestos victims and their families in 2004. ADAO is the largest non-profit in the U.S. dedicated to providing asbestos victims and concerned citizens with a united voice through our education, advocacy, and community initiatives. ADAO seeks to raise public awareness about the dangers of asbestos exposure, advocate for an asbestos ban, and protect asbestos victims’ civil rights. For more information, visit www.asbestosdiseaseawareness.org.

Contact:

Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO)

Kim Cecchini

Media Relations

202-391-5205


Kim@asbestosdiseaseawareness.org

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ADAO’s Sixth Congressional Staff Briefing Calls for Congress to Take Action to End Asbestos Exposure