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Better to be safe than sorry

8 July 2016

By John Cunningham – REINSW President

Asbestos is a deadly disease and an estimated 40,000 Australians are expected to have asbestos related cancers by 2020.

This is why it is so important to take advantage of the free loose-fill asbestos insulation (LFAI) sample testing which is currently being offered by the NSW Government.

The tests are available until 1 August 2016 to owners of residential properties built before 1980, in 28 NSW local government areas. A limited offer of free testing has also been offered to an additional 35 local government areas in southern NSW. To find out if you can take advantage of this testing, visit the NSW Fair Trading website.

If you are not in one of the designated council areas there is a cost involved for testing, but if your home tests positive you will be refunded. The owner of a property found with LFAI will become eligible for Government assistance. This means you can have your property valued by two independent valuers as if it was free of asbestos and sell it to the Government who will demolish it safely.

If your property tests positive and you decide to stay, it will be placed on the LFAI register and tagged in its meter box. LFAI is commonly found in in the ACT and southern areas of NSW. However it has also been found throughout other areas of Sydney and in country regions out as far as Orange.

There are other building products containing asbestos that are primarily in hard sheet form that are referred to as fibro. These were used in most buildings throughout Australia prior to 1980 so most of us probably have some form of asbestos in our homes locked away in wall linings, soffits and ceilings.  This is not LFAI but if disturbed, smashed up, drilled through or ground down the asbestos fibres can be released. 

So it is always best to exercise caution where asbestos is involved and when carrying out building works to be aware asbestos may exist and only deal with licensed tradespeople who have completed an asbestos awareness course. It’s better to be safe than sorry.