Families Continue to Recover from the Mr Fluffy Buyback Program

Australian families are struggling with the aftermath of their long-term exposure to loose-fill asbestos fibers in their home. Asbestosfluf, now labeled a class 1 carcinogen of which there is no safe level of exposure was manufactured by the Mr. Fluffy company and used 40 years ago to insulate ceilings in homes in Canberra and throughout the area. To “solve” the problem, the homes are scheduled to be demolished as part of a $1 billion ACT buyback plan. The Grant family, one of many affected by the exposure and buyback, is not only troubled by the family’s exposure to the deadly agent, but also the loss of their home. Ms. Grant describes feelings of guilt and anger, and claims to have experienced many sleepless nights since she found out her home of 13 years was contaminated.

Mr. Fluffy Homes Put Homeowners at Risk for Developing Asbestos Related Diseases

Ms. Grant’s concern is that her children will develop asbestos related diseases, such as mesothelioma, a type of cancer that affects the mesothelium of the lungs. Mesothelioma is aggressive and deadly, and though there are treatments, prognosis is negative. The material in question was manufactured during the 1960s and 1970s. There were efforts by the Federal and ACT government during the 1980s and early 1990s to clean up the loose-fill asbestos from the Canberra homes, but contamination remained at dangerous levels. It wasn’t until recent years that tests showed many of the homes still had a disturbing level of Mr. Fluffy particles and there was no way to make the homes safe. The problem was so bad some families were ordered to evacuate immediately, taking with them nothing but the clothing on their backs. The government decided to buy back the 1021 homes affected and plans to begin demolition in early summer 2015. There is also debate whether the government will also buy back 60 NSW homes in the coming months.

Homeowners Face Multiple Losses and Mounting Costs

In addition to health concerns, homeowners must also face the loss of their family homes. Living in a home for 13 years and having to give it up with no warning is an extremely difficult loss. Despite the risk, the Grants still mourn their beloved home. They had worked over the years to make it their own, including installing an art mosaic dedicated to the family patriarch on one of the outer walls of the home. That mosaic, along with the rest of the home, must now be destroyed. Ms. Grant explains the difficult decision she faced to leave her home and claims she felt pressured to participate in the government buyback program. She does not feel she was properly informed and believes other homeowners face the same challenges. It was the government that allowed the problem to happen and it is now the government that is leading Mr. Fluffy homeowners hanging. Ms. Grant has been forced to close down her home-based business and purchase all new clothing and shoes for her family. The new life she has been forced to begin has only partially been funded by the government and she is at least $100,000 in the hole. Though there is little she can do to make the situation better, she is calling for a joint ACT, NSW, and Federal Government inquiry, stating she wants answers and wants people held responsible for what has happened. Sources: http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/mr-fluffy-buyback-scheme-life-has-been-ripped-from-us/story-fneuzlbd-1227275844549 http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mesothelioma/basics/definition/con-20026157   Previous: Pembrolizumab Brings Hope for Mesothelioma Victims Next: Central Michigan University Closes Building After Asbestos Discovery