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Oh dear! Oh dear!


Melissa in Australia

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My brother bought a house in the local town last month. It was built in 1950. the plaster in may walls was cracked and he decided to remove it instead of fixing it and re plaster ( I think you call it drywall there).

He knocked down all the plaster on Saturday, then Saturday night he rang and asked if DH and the older boys would be able to come help by removing the nails from the studs ready for re plastering. We were then invited to my mother's for dinner (my brother is living at my mothers at the moment).

when they arrived at my brother's house My DH asked several times about asbestos, my brother assured him there wasn't any

he assigned my boys a room each. DH was working away and he apparently asked my brother several times about asbestos. my brother said there isn't any and then went on the roof. My DH went into the room where ds17 was working ( next to the laundry) and found large amounts of smashed asbestos wall sheeting allover the floor. My DH was absolutely horrified and said something to my brother about not working in conditions like that grabbed the boys and came right home. DH is the maddest I have EVER seen him he feels deliberately lied to and that our boys health may now be compromised. My brother is fuming as he feels he is being accused unjustly of lying. My boys are pretty upset (though not talking at all ) as my brother was the only friend that ds17 had ( my brother is only 6 years older than him).

 

Basically any house in Australia that is built before 1984 definitely has asbestos in the wet areas., houses after 1984 may have asbestos and houses after around 1990 probably don't have asbestos.

My brother is a tradesman ( electrician). DH thinks that this means he cannot plead ignorance.

 

I had to ring up my poor mother and cancel the dinner party. Ring up the butcher and cancel having our cow done today as we would normally use my brother's cool room.

.... My boys spent every second weekend helping my brother on his farm. we live in a remote area .....

 

Why did my brother have to be so stupid?

 

Edited to add that my brother is 8 years older than ds17. My brother is 25

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DS is 17, plus 6 years -- that makes DB 23 years old. Still very young, and likely to believe they know well enough. I am curious WHY your brother believed there was absolutely no asbestos (and I am sure he would not jeopardize his family's health by deliberately not mentioning it. If he was assured by someone he wasn't comfortable questioning (or really wants to believe is infallible) he might have not bothered to verify.

 

This is going to be a HUGE life-lesson for your brother. My heart goes out to you all. I hope all of your family turns out to be unharmed.

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If it makes you feel any better, this excerpt from Wikipedia indicates that a brief exposure is unlikely to cause illness. Since the room your Dh was in sounds like it didn't have asbestos, perhaps your brother had checked a room or two and had found them clear of asbestos, then assumed there wouldn't be any throughout the rest of the house. I would not think he was lying to your dh.

 

"Asbestos exposure becomes a health concern when high concentrations of asbestos fibers are inhaled over a long time period.[46] People who become ill from inhaling asbestos are often those who are exposed on a day-to-day basis in a job where they worked directly with the material. As a person's exposure to fibers increases, because of being exposed to higher concentrations of fibers and/or by being exposed for a longer time, then that person's risk of disease also increases. Disease is very unlikely to result from a single, high-level exposure, or from a short period of exposure to lower levels."

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If it makes you feel any better, a brief, one-time exposure is probably not a serious health risk. The deception is obviously a problem, though. I hope you can all talk it through and resolve things once everything settles down a bit.

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I would be upset too, so I understand your frustration, but the exposure they had is not high risk. Asbestos concerns tend to be overly stated in the media. Yes, it is dangerous, but not isolated exposure like you described. The elementary school I grew up in had to have asbestos abatement done several years ago because the hot water pipes running along the walls were wrapped in asbestos insulation. I remember many kids sit in class and pick at those pipes with insulation exposed all the time, so we all had a lot of exposure, but I don't know of anyone in my small town with the mesothelioma cancer. Don't worry about that. Just avoid the house until the project is complete.

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DS is 17, plus 6 years -- that makes DB 23 years old. Still very young, and likely to believe they know well enough. I am curious WHY your brother believed there was absolutely no asbestos (and I am sure he would not jeopardize his family's health by deliberately not mentioning it. If he was assured by someone he wasn't comfortable questioning (or really wants to believe is infallible) he might have not bothered to verify.

 

This is going to be a HUGE life-lesson for your brother. My heart goes out to you all. I hope all of your family turns out to be unharmed.

 

 

I realised I wrote down the wrong amount of years. my brother is 6 years older than my oldest son, 8 years older than ds17. My brother is 25.

 

 

that is the issue ~ just when my brother was going through the house purchase process he told us that there was only asbestos int the laundry. He knew ~but conveniently forgot?? who knows. My brother has a bit of an attitude that DH is a silly Canadian who doesn't know what he is talking about. We have always looked at it is immaturity on my brother;'s part, lately he has been sort of conveying this attitude in front of my sons in our presence......

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If it makes you feel any better, this excerpt from Wikipedia indicates that a brief exposure is unlikely to cause illness. Since the room your Dh was in sounds like it didn't have asbestos, perhaps your brother had checked a room or two and had found them clear of asbestos, then assumed there wouldn't be any throughout the rest of the house. I would not think he was lying to your dh.

 

"Asbestos exposure becomes a health concern when high concentrations of asbestos fibers are inhaled over a long time period.[46] People who become ill from inhaling asbestos are often those who are exposed on a day-to-day basis in a job where they worked directly with the material. As a person's exposure to fibers increases, because of being exposed to higher concentrations of fibers and/or by being exposed for a longer time, then that person's risk of disease also increases. Disease is very unlikely to result from a single, high-level exposure, or from a short period of exposure to lower levels."

 

the room where DS was working and the laundry no longer had any wall between. all the plaster sheeting between the rooms had been pulled down. Lying all over the floor where he was standing was the smashed parts of the asbestos sheeting form the laundry wall.

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We realise that a one off exposure is not as likely to lead to asbestosis. the Issue is that my brother KNEW that there was asbestos there. he was asked several times he denied it. my DH showed him the asbestos on the floor and he mumbles something and went on the roof ( or something like that I was not there). My DH believes that he deliberately lied to him and deliberately put our family into a risky situation because her doesn't believe my DH about health risks.

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How do you tell its asbestos and not regular plaster or wallboard?

 

 

Both by the age and the appearance. Just about ALL cement sheet made in Australia during the 50's was asbestos

 

Because Australia has the highest rates of Asbestos related cancer in the world,http://www.asbestos.com/mesothelioma/australia/

 

Health warnings about it are made all the time.

 

 

 

 

quote In Victoria, it is estimated that 98% of homes constructed before 1976 contained asbestos products (most likely asbestos sheeting) and that 20% of all domestic roofs of that period contained asbestos. [4]http://www.asbestoswise.com.au/information-and-resources/asbestos-in-the-home/

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I have removed asbestos tile in my own house while remodeling, and I was VERY careful and thorough with the process and the cleanup! I'd be livid in your shoes. Perhaps your brother was misinformed? I'm trying to leave room for doubt here... but I'd be really mad if I thought he was just using your guys for labor and deceived them. Man, oh man.

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Not trying to scare you, Melissa, but I just wanted to chime in that your concern about asbestos exposure is absolutely valid. I used to work processing asbestos injury claims for a trust set up by a bankrupt company that manufactured asbestos-containing products (we approved/disapproved claims against the company for asbestos-related illnesses). Chances are, your family is fine in that brief exposure to asbestos isn't likely to lead to asbestosis, other non-malignant asbestos-related injuries, or even lung cancer. However, the worst asbestos-related illness is mesothelioma (cancer) and that can be triggered by very little exposure to asbestos. Thankfully, meso is a very rare asbestos-related injury and your family is thus likely to be fine, but one should absolutely heed asbestos exposure warnings. The prognosis for mesothelioma is very scary (most people die within a year of diagnosis) and if one is genetically prone to develop meso with asbestos exposure, even limited exposure could be enough to lead to cancer later (the period between exposure and meso development is usually 20-30 years).

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