PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) will be assessing homes across New South Wales to see whether or not loose-fill asbestos is a widespread issue.
The Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities (HACA) engaged the services of the firm, which will offer free ceiling insulation testing to potentially affected properties statewide.
HACA is chaired by WorkCover NSW and comprises a number of the state’s government agencies involved in asbestos monitoring, management and response activities.
According to WorkCover NSW, 332 homes have already been tested as of December 4, with no positive samples returned thus far. A total of 910 households and businesses across 26 council areas have signed up to receive an assessment.
Asbestos was used as insulation in a number of properties across the ACT and NSW during the 20th century, with homes built before 1980 thought to be a particular risk. The hazardous material is known to cause a number of deadly lung diseases, which has led to many families making asbestosis claims over recent years.
Last month, WorkCover NSW called on tradies and residents to learn more about how to safely manage the material.
WorkCover Acting General Manager for Work Health and Safety Peter Dunphy said Australia had left behind a “deadly legacy” because of the country’s frequent use of asbestos in the past.
“Australia has one of the highest rates of asbestos-related diseases in the world because this country was among the highest consumers of asbestos products until a complete ban of asbestos came into force in Australia in 2003,” he explained.
“There is still a high volume of asbestos-containing building products used prior to 1987 that remain hidden dangers in homes and buildings, such as garages and farm structures, so it’s critical that all Australians become asbestos aware.”
Requesting an asbestos test
Mr Dunphy made the remarks on November 28, which was Asbestos Awareness Day. In keeping with the occasion, he urged NSW residents to educate themselves on the hazardous substance and request a free independent property check to assuage any fears.
Testing of properties is currently ongoing, with licensed asbestos assessors carrying out the work across the state. WorkCover stated that these professionals can inform households whether or not living spaces are adequately sealed and if asbestos risks are currently contained.
HACA is said to be accelerating the investigation in an effort to provide the NSW government with interim findings so that swift action can be taken on affected homes if necessary.