Expert’s grim warning about Rocky’s asbestos-riddled homes
COMPLACENCY and lack of knowledge are two major factors contributing to asbestos-related illnesses across Central Queensland.
The concerning admission comes by way of Nicholas Turner, an expert on the hazardous material following his 16-year long career as a removalist.
Based in Rockhampton, the director of Turner Demolition and Asbestos Removal said he had certainly witnessed his share of homes riddled with the material.
“It’s quite disturbing, we’ve had some buildings built right up until 2004 which we’ve sent samples away for and they’ve come back positive.”
However, he added, it was not surprising considering the region’s affinity for heritage homes.
“We usually find that anything [built] post-1980, around that era, could contain asbestos.”
“A lot of the older houses through Wandal, The Range, Depot Hill and Koongal – housing commission houses – they all pretty much have a lot of asbestos in there.”
Indicators expert removalists typically seek out involve the home’s fibre and architrave, older profile sheeting and large nail heads.
Each year between 700 and 800 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma – tumours caused by inhaled asbestos fibres – nationwide.
In 2018, almost 700 people died from the rare and aggressive cancer.
Despite the many horror stories, asbestos-filled properties need not prove cause for immeidate concern – at least not all the time.
“Just because it’s in your house does not necessarily mean you have to move out or get it removed,” assured Mr Turner.
“If it’s in your house and it’s well painted and sealed, it’s quite harmless. It’s only when you start to renovate, or you notice cracks.”
The most concerning case he recalled involved the discovery of chrysotile – both the purest and most potent type of asbestos – inside a ceiling cavity.
“Homeowners, workers, most of them say they’ve been around it 30 years and don’t realise the potential risks of being exposed to it.”
Recent destructive hailstorms across the region further resulted in a busy period for his team.
“From mid next year there’s probably not going to be too many asbestos roofs anymore. They all got damaged pretty badly,” he said.
“A lot of people see the price of removal and they find it shocking, but once they see the process and everything that goes into it, they understand.”
Mr Turner credits initiatives such as Asbestos Awareness Week for helping further inform people of the associated dangers.
“We’re seeing a lot more people doing their homework thankfully, but we still encounter people who don’t really understand it.”
“It’s pretty easy to access all that info, back in the day you definitely didn’t have access to it so these days there’s not really much excuse for not being informed about it.”