A recent report has claimed that hundreds of businesses in the ACT and surrounding areas could inadvertently be harbouring a deadly substance.
According to the Canberra Times, these commercial properties were never made part of the official federal government clean-up campaign to remove so-called 'fluffy' asbestos from dwellings and public venues.
Experts in asbestos removal say that a single damaged tile is enough to cause the material to 'bloom' into the air, where it can easily be drawn into parts of a property that enjoy more frequent levels of human contact.
The fibrous form of the mineral is known for its cancer-causing properties, with a particular form – malignant mesothelioma – usually resulting in a poor prognosis for those unlucky to become afflicted with it.
Speaking to the publication on October 16, former general manager of the ACT Asbestos Removal Program Dr Keith McKenry said that many commercial properties did not receive the attentions of the federally-funded initiative because they were outside the range of operations.
McKenry said: "We saw day-care centres, cafes and all manner of other small business people who were worried they had the stuff in the roof, but we couldn't really help them because commercial buildings were out of our scope.
"We could give them advice, but anything that wasn't residential was excluded from the program."
In the 1980s, the federal government made $100 million available to remove the loose-packed material from homes in the ACT and surrounding areas – but the initiative was finished before all properties were inspected.
Official council documents show that there were around 50 other families who were unaware of the fluffy asbestos within their roof cavities – or had chosen to stay silent because they feared that the asking price for their dwelling might suffer.
In some cases, the council urged concerned members of the public to bring in a piece of their insulation for analysis if they were worried about the potential for exposure to the dangerous material – a move described by McKenry as being "the absolute diametric opposite of what public health guidelines dictate".
While the ownership of a particular dwelling may have differed over the years, victims who have suffered from exposure to asbestos are able to launch claims for compensation.
A personal injury lawyer with specialist training can help these individuals to determine the documentation needed by a successful case – potentially maximising the amount obtained.
For victims who are concerned about the initial costs, a no win no fee lawyer can help them to explore their legal options either over the phone or in a face-to-face meeting.