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Australian Mesothelioma Risk From Mr. Fluffy Homes Quantified

Public health experts have long expressed concerns for the health of those Australians who have lived in the homes identified as having been insulated with “Mr. Fluffy,” an insulation product that was heavily contaminated with asbestos and installed in thousands of homes during the 1980s and more recently in homes in New South Wales Now an emeritus professor at the University of Sydney school of public health has been able to analyze air monitoring results and use them to quantify the exact risk for those who have been exposed.

According to Bruce Armstrong, the average concentration of 0.001 fibers per ` milliliter of air inside of a Mr. Fluffy home translates into a risk of 16 extra cases for every 100,000 people who have lived in one of these homes over the course of their lifetime. With over 1,000 Mr. Fluffy homes built in Canberra alone, that means that residents can expect that at least one person will be diagnosed with mesothelioma from that community. Though one may seem like a small number, one in 100,000 is what is considered to be the minimum safety level, so a risk of sixteen times greater than that is cause for concern. “Anything that confers a risk of cancer greater than one in 100,000 is generally not thought to be safe for exposure of the general population. And therefore it’s reasonable to conclude that living in a Mr. Fluffy house represents an unacceptable risk to life and health,” Armstrong said.

The numbers calculated for Mr. Fluffy homes in the Canberra area stand in stark contrast to those in other communities, some of which registered concentrations as high as 0.02 fibers per milliliter, which corresponds to a lifetime risk of 328 per 100,000. “Those are the upper limit measurements that anyone has measured,” Armstrong says. That is the maximum and it would appear from the measurements that have been done, that those kinds of levels are uncommon.” The release of his research coincides with the demolition of 1,022 Mr. Fluffy homes. The numbers he had gathered date back to the early 1980s, and there are no measurements available from over the past twelve months. As a result, he says that the estimate was “the best that can be made, it’s as simple as that.”

Armstrong acknowledges that the risk would be higher in homes where renovations or other activities that might have caused a disturbance to the asbestos might have occurred.

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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