Mr. Fluffy – The Silent Killer

During the 1960’s and 1970’s a contamination event occurred throughout the ACT and parts of NSW known as Mr. Fluffy. The term ‘Mr. Fluffy’ was coined to represent two insulation companies which imported and installed loose-fill asbestos into roof spaces within homes and buildings throughout Canberra and parts of New South Wales.

What is Mr. Fluffy?

Mr. fluffy is loose fill asbestos (raw crushed asbestos) which is not bonded or compressed with any other materials. This form of asbestos is known as ‘friable’ as opposed to the common ‘bonded’ asbestos such as asbestos cement sheeting which is non-friable. In most cases, the Mr. Fluffy insulation consists of brown asbestos (amosite), though instances of blue asbestos (crocidolite) have been identified. Loose-fill asbestos has a flossy appearance and is usually blueish grey or white in colour.

Where is it found?

Mr. Fluffy insulation was predominantly installed throughout the Canberra region; however, many cases of Mr. Fluffy have been identified throughout NSW. There are over 1022 identified Mr. Fluffy houses throughout the ACT and 151 so far identified throughout NSW. These numbers will continue to increase, especially across NSW, as the Mr. Fluffy companies are believed to have sold sacks of loose-fill asbestos directly to homeowners for DIY jobs making it difficult to pinpoint the number of homes affected. It is estimated that 30,000 people have lived in affected homes. Mr. Fluffy insulation was originally pumped into the ceiling cavities of homes though, when disturbed the asbestos fibres become airborne and can travel into other areas of the house. While fibres have been regularly found throughout the living areas, the biggest contamination is in the ceiling, walls, and subfloors.

Health Impacts

Exposure to asbestos fibres can lead to a large range of health issues which usually occur 10 to 20 years after initial exposure. The most common diseases which arise from asbestos exposure include asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, and pleural disease.

A study carried out at the ANU identified that men living in Mr Fluffy homes were two and half times more likely to be diagnosed with mesothelioma than men not living in these houses. It was also noted that there were no cases of mesothelioma among women who had lived in a Mr Fluffy house. This may be because men were entering the ceiling cavity of their homes more often than women. Living in a Mr. Fluffy house can also cause significant psychological distress. An ACT Asbestos Health Study identified that one quarter of Mr. Fluffy affected homeowners who responded to a survey reported high level of psychological distress. The thought of knowing you may have exposed your children and family to such a harmful substance can weigh very heavily on someone’s mind.

A Canberran, found out last year that he had been living in a Mr. fluffy house for 28 years, despite the fact he received a letter from the ACT Building Control confirming a negative asbestos survey result. This highlights the importance of getting your house tested as sometimes if can be found in hard to access areas of the house and is easily missed.

It is really important to get your house tested if you are unsure in anyway because it does not just affect the occupants of the house but it could be a tradesperson (electrician, plumber or builder) who may also be exposed.
If you have any concerns and want to get your house tested for asbestos, please get in touch with us and we will organise one of our expert consultants to come out and have a look around.

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