Asbestos fear for family

A Colyton family has been caught in a turmoil following a family  bathroom renovation which quickly went from challenging to disastrous last week.

After hiring a handyman to breathe life into their old home   the Mead family hired a tradesman who could have been unlicensed and had possibly exposed them to what they believe is asbestos.

Home owner Geoff Mead is worried about the health of his family and  hopes to find some answers soon.

‘‘The NSW Poison Centre doesn’t give   a reference number and tells you to evacuate because it is potentially serious,’’ he said.

‘‘We’re destitute, devastated and ruined.’’

Mr Mead said the tradesman was advertised on a calendar provided by L. J. Hooker  and represented himself as working for the company on a contact basis.

Public relations representatives from L.J. Hooker said the company was doing all it could to resolve the problem and ensure the safety of all parties involved.

Despite the poisons claims Mr Mead said he and his family have continued to live in the potentially contaminated house since Wednesday. 

Due to the toxic qualities of asbestos, Mr Mead and his family have tried not to leave their home to avoid contaminating others.

‘‘We have  no financial ability to go any where else,’’ Mr Mead said.

While it is assumed that all homes built before 1984 contain a certain amount of asbestos, analysis from a qualified occupational hygenist is needed to determine whether or not the poison is present and if it has contaminated the home.

Asbestos DisTHERE is a dark side to DIY home renovations often missed by popular television shows.

Asbestos, present in most old houses,  continues to be responsible for many diseases affecting home owners who undertake renovations without being aware of the risks.

President of the Asbestos Disease Foundation of Australia Barry Robson said he hoped more people would become aware of the dangers of doing their own home renovations and using unlicensed labour.

‘‘Firstly, make sure your tradesman is licensed,’’ he said. 

‘‘Scondly, if it is asbestos that you come across, get experts to remove it: do it yourself and you’ll do yourself in.’’ 

Mr Robson said exposure to asbestos can result in  asbestosis and lung cancer that can take up to 30 years to be detected.

In the case of the Mead family, Mr Robson believes that following his advice would have saved them from the fear of being exposed to asbestos and the harm it may have in the future.

‘‘The Mead family is now going to have this worry for the next 30 years and whether or not they may have been given a death sentence by this unlicensed cowboy,’’ he said.

Asbestos products are now banned in Australia but continue to affect many people who work in the housing and industrial industries.

 For more information about the effects of asbestos visit www.adfa.org.au  

NSW Fair Trading: 

‘‘NSW Fair Trading regulates the home building industry. 

Consumers should deal only with a builder or tradesperson who holds a current licence for the work required.

Before engaging a builder or tradesperson, it is important to make sure the contractor’s licence is current and valid for the work you want done. A licence number must be included in all advertising for residential building and specialist work. The Home Building Act 1989 prohibits a company or individual from advertising for any residential building work over $1000 or specialist work to be carried out without having a current contractor licence.

Licence checks can be done online at www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au.’’ 

L.J. Hooker: 

‘‘It’s definitely an unfortunate situation and we are working diligently with all the parties involved   to understand what has happened, deal with it swiftly and ensure the safety of all the family.

It is our goal to be absolutely transparent, understand the facts and get it resolved.’’

Robert Paton from Downunder Plumbing Solutions, who later alerted the family when he saw the original work, said: 

‘‘Be prepared for the unexpected—the stuff that’s behined the wall. 

Have contigencies in place to deal with the things that come up.’’

Workcover NSW: 

‘‘WorkCover received a complaint in relation to the presence of asbestos sheeting in the back yard of a residential property on January 10.  

Although this is not a worksite, an inspector has been in contact with the home owner and other relevant parties to help assess the situation and provide advice.

 WorkCover has recommended that an accredited occupational hygienist be engaged to determine the presence of asbestos at the property and to ensure its safe removal by a suitably licensed individual. 

WorkCover will continue to provide advice and assistance and work with the local council and other  arties to ensure the safe removal of asbestos from this site.’’

Penrith Council:

The council works  with the NSW Government, the  Asbestos Diseases Research Institute (ADRI) and the Asbestos Education Committee on educational campaigns that inform the community on the risks and dangers of asbestos.

 Last year during Asbestos Awareness Week (Nov 26-30) Council hosted ‘Betty’ the asbestos awareness caravan which demonstrates where asbestos is likely to be found in the home and helps people understand asbestos risks, especially if they’re planning on renovating in the future. During Asbestos Awareness Week, a website was launched to provide people with information relating to asbestos and its managementwww.asbestosawareness.com.au.

 The NSW Government has also developed a renovators and homeowner’s guide to Fibro and Asbestos.

This fact sheet and further information about asbestos can be found on  

 http://www.nsw.gov.au/fibro  and  www.penrithcity.nsw.gov.au.

 Late last year the NSW Government issued a model asbestos policy for NSW councils. Penrith City Council is currently developing a policy in accordance with this directive.

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