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Ann-Maree Pascoli providing Q & A on asbestos diseases on the 2GB Show – 3 December 2019

Ann-Maree Pascoli providing Q & A on the 2GB Steve Price Afternoon Show discussing asbestos - 3 December 2019

Tuesday, 3 December 2019 

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SP – Steve Price / AP – Ann-Maree Pascoli / C1,2,3, etc – Callers 

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SP       It’s Tuesday afternoon. It’s always good to catch up with our friends from Turner Freeman Lawyers. We’re going to talk about asbestos today.  Now, I know the last time that we talked about this issue we had a full board of calls. Give us a call now on 131 873. You might not have got through on the – at the last time we talked about this. As always, we’ve got a $100 Westfield Voucher to our best caller of the day. Joining us from Turner Freeman Lawyers today, their Partner specialising in asbestosis claims, Ann-Maree Pascoli. Good to talk to you again.

AP       Well likewise Steve.

SP       Not asbestos, asbestosis? – No that’s the disease – asbestos is the product.

AP       That’s exactly right.

SP       So I had a – I don’t think I’ve told you this before – I had a brother-in-law who worked with his dad in Western Australia in Perth as a young man working on various home renovation projects and a lot of asbestos involved.  We lost him about three years ago to mesothelioma. It’s an incurable disease of the lung and a very painful death.

AP       It is.  It is Steve. It’s an awful death actually.

SP       131 873 is our number. Give us a call if you are thinking about taking on a case involving asbestos – Ann-Maree can give you some advice – 131 873 is our number.  If you had worked in the renovation business. You’ve got some warnings actually Ann-Maree – current warnings for our parents about the sort of material in their homes before they do a renovation.

AP       Yeah that’s right Steve. I think –you know.  We’ve been trying to raise some awareness in the community recently because there seems to be a lot of misunderstanding across the community in general about where you can actually find asbestos in the homes and a lot of these you know “do it yourself” renovation shows and things like that are you know – making people want to get in and paint themselves or pull things out themselves and they could be exposing themselves and their families to asbestos without even realising it and you know, if your kids are around while the renovations are being done or you know if you give them a hug and you’ve got some dust on your clothes, they can actually – that can actually put them at risk as well.

SP       That’s incredible to think that you can actually do it just by you know physical contact like that. We’ve got this case of Matthew Worfel who was diagnosed with mesothelioma – he was working I think on a renovation project.  He actually was awarded a large amount of money.

AP       He was. He was. But that was run by our South Australian team. So that verdict was in South Australia.

SP       And that was a $3 million dollar payout. Now he had worked on a television program – is that right? His lawyer had warned that those TV shows were putting people in danger and so if you are going to do a quick and cheap renovation, found out what the place is made of first.

AP       That’s exactly right. Yes – so his – the partner who ran that case for him, our South Australian partner, Annie Hoffman was warning about home reno shows and do it yourself renos and the danger you could be putting yourself in there.

SP       So Matthew worked from 42 – exposed to asbestos, renovating two homes and this was not – these are not necessarily older homes because it was the late 1990’s and 2000’s.

AP       I think that was when he did the renovation – but the fibro could have been there from before and that’s where a lot of the problems arise.  So even if you are not putting the fibro in yourself and even if you think you are taking out gyprock or some other product, you could actually be taking out old fibro that has asbestos in it. So best to have it checked.

SP       How hard is a litigation in a case like this?

AP       Oh look, they’re getting harder – these sorts of cases where you’re dealing with in situ products and people doing their own renovations are trickier than what they have been traditionally in the past where you’re working – where we are making claims for people who were working with asbestos for example. So they are harder than usual and it’s why it’s important to get specialist lawyers involved rather than you know just somebody down the road.

SP       If you’ve been through one of these cases or intending to go through one of these cases, a $100 voucher for Westfield for our best caller of the day.  131 873 is the number. Update your news headlines in a moment. Take those calls – 131 873 – asbestosis, mesothelioma.  Are you seeing an increased number of cases?

AP       I think we’ve had an increase over the last 12 months but it does tend to ebb and a little bit. I think what’s important is that we are definitely seeing it decreased – which is what the experts predicted would happen – when in fact that it’s not. So that’s a little scary and that is indicative of just how much asbestos is actually around.

SP       We are talking to Ann-Maree Pascoli – Partner specialising in asbestos claims from Turner Freeman Lawyers. We will tell you after the break that these cases actually can take decades to develop – it’s not something that immediately it makes itself evident and certainly in the case of my brother-in-law – he was in his 60’s when he first discovered that he had mesothelioma and it was really sad to lose him in that way – but he had just simply worked with his dad doing a whole bunch of renovations. Ann-Maree Pascoli’s with us. 131 873 is our number. Back after the break.

Back here to Turner Freeman calls in just one moment. 131 873 is the number. Let’s check our news update first…. with Amy………….Update news.

Good on you Amy – thank you very much for that. Ann-Maree Pascoli, partner specialising in asbestos claims is with us in the studio.  It can take a long time to develop this disease can’t it?

AP         It can Steve and I think that a lot of people get a bit of a sense false security from the fact that you know – you can be exposed today but you’d be okay – it can take anything from 10 to 40 years for the disease to develop.

SP          Let’s talk to Kevin at Riverstone. Hello Kevin.

Caller 1 – Kevin

C1       Hello Steve. Mate. It’s just a warning to everyone that’s doing renovations because anything that’s made – like built before 1984, it’s got asbestos in it and you’ve got to watch everything that you do with that so, I’m just putting a warning out there because people are doing renovation and they don’t know that they’re gyprock and everything has asbestos on it – but after 1984, 84 – I’m sure I’m right with 84 – but 84/85 – definitely after that – they never had asbestos mate.

SP       I reckon I went to – I reckon – Ann-Maree and Kevin to a house in the 60’s that my aunty was living in which was a Housing Trust House. A whole house was built out of asbestos.

AP       Yeah – that wasn’t uncommon in that time Steve. The Housing Commission homes were pretty much up until the 1970’s all asbestos ………

SP       Asbestos sheeting?

AP       Yeah.

SP       Yeah and the whole wall – interior walls and exterior walls and so if you know – if you accidentally put a foot through the wall or something, you were right in the middle of a whole cluster of asbestos.

AP       Yep – that’s exactly right.

SP       Brian’s in Penshurst. Hello Brian.

Caller 2Brian

C2       Good afternoon Steve – thanks for taking my call.

SP       Pleasure.

C2       I was just wandering all the years that I’ve been hearing about asbestos and that, I’ve never heard of anything to say what year it actually was starting to be put into materials like building materials and that, so I was wondering if the lady there with you could answer that question?

AP       When it started being put in asbestos – ah – cement building materials?  Is that what you’re asking?

C2       Yeah – in everything to do with you know building materials.

AP       Well, ah – I mean it varied – but certainly at least from 1940’s, asbestos was in asbestos cement building materials and like Kevin said before you, Hardy stopped putting it in the products in about 1984.

C2       Yeah because some of these older homes – I’m in a double brick home and it’s got to be at least 90 – maybe 100 years old and ahhh.

SP       I guess you can get a building inspection to check to see if you have asbestos in your house – can you Ann-Maree?

AP       Yes you can.  You can get experts to come out. They test it and they’ll give you a report.

SP       It’s probably worth doing Brian. Yes it’s certainly if you are think about doing any renovations that would be the advice wouldn’t it Ann-Maree?

AP       Absolutely.  Absolutely.  Before you touch anything – check before you renovate.

SP       Adam’s in Penrith. Hello Adam

Caller 3 – Adam

C3       Yeah – just about the renovations as well – anything – yeah before 85 if it was external – getting touched by the rain in the bathroom where it’s getting wet – in the laundry where it’s getting wet – all that will be asbestos in most cases so – if you are touching anything in any water related areas, 95% of time before 85 is going to be asbestos.

SP       Does it – is it very difficult to deal with in that case? I mean what are the precautions you have to take?

C3       The good thing about that is at least it is in a waterproof/water type wet area where as long as it’s wet and it’s not getting airborne, you’re at less risk.  Of course all asbestos is dangerous in everyone’s minds but when its dry and when it’s dried and brittle and exposed to the air, that’s when you’re most at risk – if you’ve got a crack in your bathroom and it’s wet constantly and moist – you’re not at that much of a risk, but of course you still need to get that fixed and eventually with those type of upgrades, taking those tiles off the wall – that was your waterproofing in those days – there is no membranes, there is no sealant – asbestos is your waterproofing.

SP       Great tip Adam – thank you very much for that. There’s a lot of people doing their own renovations that’s the warning that Ann-Maree gave us that started this conversation. John’s in Rouse Hill. Hello John.

Caller 4 – John

C4       Yes G’day Steve. How are you?

SP       Good mate thank you – go ahead.

C4       Yes – I’m a grader driver. I’ve been a grader driver for 25 years.

SP       Yep

C4       Sometimes we get told about silicosis which comes off sandstone.

SP       Yes – you know about that Ann-Maree?

AP       I do, yes.

SP       So it’s a similar – similar to meso?

AP       No.  It’s more – sorry – it’s more like asbestosis.  So silicosis is not what we call a malignant condition.

SP       And John – do you ever have to deal with asbestos?

C4       Ah yes – when we are coming into these new sub-division areas now that the developer wants to put through a lot of older buildings – it’s got the old asbestos pipes and the dust that comes off that when you hit them. As a grader driver, I’ve just …..  – My wife says my breathing and that is getting shallower at night when I’m asleep and I don’t know if I have been affected or not affected.

SP       What would your advice be there Ann-Maree? Would you go and get a test?

AP       Yes absolutely. I’d get to the GP – the first thing you could do is ask for a scan of your chest and they can go from there.

C4       Ah right, right.

SP       Go do it John – you’d probably think you’re bullet proof but I would suspect that you probably should get it checked if you’ve been a grader driver for that long, there’s no doubt that you would have been in contact with it somewhere. Don’s in Caringbah. Hello Don.

Caller 5 – Don

C5       Hi.  How are you going?

SP       Okay.

C5       I spent probably 12 months in a brake-lining company which had asbestos brake-linings – the old brake-linings in the older cars.

SP       Yep

C5       And I used to get dust up my nose every night, I’d have dust on my nose. How would I know if I’ve been affected?  I mean is there a – I think the previous caller must of – you mentioned to the previous caller you can get the GP to do a scan – is that correct?

AP       Well your GP can refer you to have a CT scan – so the GP won’t do the scan but you get the referral from your GP – you head out to the Radiology Department and they’ll do a scan for you of your chest and that will tell you whether……….

SP       How good are those scans? I mean are they pretty fool-proof?

AP       Well the CT scans are – sometimes they’ll start with an x-ray – they’re not as great at diagnosing a condition but the CT scans are you know are the gold standard.

C5       I had one years ago.

SP       Yeah doesn’t matter Don – go and do it mate. I mean my brother-in-law died at 64 or 63 I should say and he was doing that reno work with his dad when he was 13 – so it was 50 years later.

C5       Yeah okay – well it’s been 50 years so I’ve got to go and get it checked.

SP       Yes.

C5       Thank you.

SP       See your GP and get there and do it quickly. Don’t put it off, that would be my advice.  Stephen’s in Brisbane.  G’day Stephen

Caller 6 – Stephen

C6       G’day, good afternoon.

SP       Yeah go ahead.

C6       A quick story. I work in real estate doing residential property inspections and last year I attended a property which I felt was dangerous for the tenant.  The inside wet area linings where I believe asbestos and they were flaky and you know looked pretty bad.  And it turned out that I tried to contact the Council and WorkSafe I think it is and neither have any jurisdiction in that area – so if you report is what you think is asbestos that might be dangerous – just doesn’t seem to be anybody who can do anything or you know sort of take action until it’s too late until something happens.  Well that’s the impression I got.

SP       That doesn’t sound good. – Yeah that doesn’t sound good – I mean I guess they are saying to you well we don’t know whether it is dangerous or not, it might be asbestos – it’s in a situation where it’s not dangerous but you would think there was some way of getting people to go and check it out.  When you were doing these property inspections, are they to set these places up for rental or for sale?

C6       Well – yeah, they were actual rental properties which had tenants and I felt that the tenant was in danger to be honest with you because I’ve had some building background, so I’m pretty sure it was asbestos but you know it has to be tested to be confirmed.

SP       And Ann-Maree who would be liable in that case if the tenant did get a problem from that?  Would it be the real estate agent or the owner?

AP       It would probably be the private home owner. Yeah.

C6       It seemed to me because I wrote this up in the report that I gave and the owner and the property manager and the real estate owner of the business were just not interested – they didn’t want to know basically which I was quite surprised by and so I followed up by making – basically wanting to tell who I thought you know a Government department who could go and have a look and nobody wanted to know – it seemed like it was nobody’s jurisdiction.

SP       Yep bureaucracy at work again Stephen. Thank you. You do that. Exactly the right thing. Terry in Gosford. Hello.

Caller 7 – Terry

C7       Yes hello. So, I’ve worked a lot with asbestos in the early days and I used the fibro cutters for cutting the sheets which left a lot of dust and so forth and then in my working life I was installing alarm systems and fitting external siren covers and drilling into the fibro eves which was right in front of your face and I’m just wondering – 2 years ago I was clear from the – I’m 80 now. But 2 years ago I was clear, but I was just wondering you know, could it still happen to me if ……………..

SP       Great question. I hope we haven’t upset you too much this afternoon – Ann-Maree what do you think?

AP       Look, I hate to say it Terry, but it still could happen – so I’d keep a regular check on it with your doctors.

SP       How’s your breathing and your general……….

C7       Um, I’m short of breath most of the time.

SP       Yeah. Okay. Well……

C7       I’ll go – I’ll get another scan I think it might be worthwhile.  I just didn’t know how long it would take I mean –at 80 – I’m wondering if it is clear now, I shouldn’t have to worry – I mean it’s not going to …………..

SP       Go get another check. The other thing you’ve got to do is hang on the phone because we are going to give you a $100 Westfield voucher –so you hang on Terry and you can go and pick up a Christmas present based on that. Howard’s in Quakers Hill. Hello Howard.

Caller 8 – Howard

C8       Okay Steve.  How are you mate?

SP       Good thanks. You deal with it on a regular basis as a builder?

C8       Yes mate. I’ve been a builder for 50 years in the western suburbs from sort of Merrylands, Parramatta, right through to Quakers Hill, Schofields, Riverstone and I’m a trainer of identifying asbestos products.

SP       Good man.

C8       And the actual asbestos started in the 40’s and it finished some time in the 80’s and we did a recent test on a piece of Hardiflex that was found in a Bunnings store and it contained asbestos because it was an old sheet from the bottom of the stack that had been there for some years.

SP       Wow.

C8       So that was taken back and that sheet was dated 2004. Now asbestos comes in two types. It comes in friable and bonded. The bonded is really called “non friable” now and the bonded is sheet form and friable stuff you can’t see and it was in putty, it’s in sash cord and if you remember when the 9/11 Towers fell, 100,000 tonnes of asbestos dust went into the air and that was the white dust that covered the people running away from the 9/11 Towers.

SP       Amazing. And I would imagine, I’m guessing here – but western suburbs of Sydney – a lot of this stuff would have been used.

C8       Yes – or even around Hurstville and Sutherland area – it’s usually the little fibro places – terracotta tile roofs were all sort of bungalow style houses with a flat cladding with a horizontal beading around midstream or even every four feet or every 1200 – there was a horizontal strip and it’s in the eve linings – it’s in barge board, on garages – it’s on garage ceilings – eve linings – it’s in laundries, wet areas.

SP       Everywhere.

C8       That other guy that said that if it’s wet it’s not going to hurt you, well it won’t hurt you when it’s wet which is the process of removal, but it’s not a waterproofing agent at all.

SP       Thank you for your advice – that doesn’t make any of us feel very comfortable I don’t think Howard but it really is the experience we needed to hear.  Ann-Maree Pascoli from Turner Freeman – thank you very much. We’ll talk to you soon.

AP       Thank you Steve.

SP       Back after the break.