Mr. Fluffy Asbestos In Australia Causing Problems for Hundreds of Families

December 3, 2014 - The Commonwealth of Australia recently offered a concessional loan of $1 billion to the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) to enact a plan to end problems related to Mr. Fluffy insulation products and asbestos. The Mr. Fluffy Company, makers of Asbestosfluf, used loose-filled asbestos in roofing spaces in more than 1000 homes throughout ACT. The practice began in the 1970s and continued for several years. A cleanup was attempted during the 1980s, but recent discoveries have shown there are still traces of asbestos in the homes, which are now considered uninhabitable. The loan money will be used by ACT to purchase the homes from current owners and demolish them, beginning in January 2015. The intention is to later sell the land once the homes are gone. The total project will take at least five years, with 200 homes due to be demolished each year.

Residents Unhappy and Scared

Despite the uninhabitable status of the homes, many are still occupied by residents who received letters in early 2014 warning them of the danger. Each was told their home likely contained toxic traces of Mr. Fluffy product to which they were exposed to during their residency. Asbestos can be harmless when left alone, but renovations tend to stir up particles and make them air born, and therefore more likely to be inhaled. In some homes, asbestos levels were so dangerous homeowners evacuated immediately. The goal of the loan and demolition project is to ensure there is not a single “Mr. Fluffy house” left standing. Unfortunately, experts have determined there is no practical or affordable way to make the homes safe for residents without demolition. Homeowners have been given six months to agree to the deal. Since some are unhappy with the demolition plan, there will likely be some backlash. Already, homeowners are claiming there was an opportunity to shut down Mr. Fluffy, but the government failed to do so.

Dangers of Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos is a mineral found naturally in the environment. Its fibers are strong and resistant to heat, making it useful in construction. Mesothelioma is a type cancer with a high fatality rate, caused almost exclusively by exposure to asbestos. When asbestos is broken up it creates dust, which when inhaled or swallowed settles in the lungs and stomach causing long-term irritation. It is assumed that other factors play a role in determining whether or not asbestos exposure will lead to a mesothelioma diagnosis, as not everyone exposed develops cancer and other exposed only for a short time fall ill.

It can take decades for cancer to develop. Symptoms of mesothelioma include:

  • Chest pain under the rib cage
  • Painful coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unusual lumps of tissue under the skin on your chest
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Lumps of tissue in the abdomen
  • Unexplained weight loss
Mesothelioma is an ongoing health problem in Australia due to the country's extensive use of asbestos. References: Previous: Talc Cosmetic Products May Pose a Larger Asbestos Risk Than Previously Thought Next: Worldwide Mesothelioma Epidemic Could Be in the Future According to Data