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Thursday, 16 April 2015

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Lingering Asbestos Spells Danger for Disabled 57-year-old

Despite a pre-Christmas report to a local council, a quantity of asbestos discovered in a Perthshire house has still not been cleared.

The presence at the Longforgan property of the exposed toxic material, a notorious carcinogen, gravely risks the health of the disabled resident, Fiona Low.

Reported before Christmas, says Resident

The asbestos was reported to Perth and Kinross Council in December 2014 by Ms Low, who has previously been diagnosed with emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Ms Low insists that to date no effort has been made by the authority to dispose of the material.

Ms Low's lung condition obliges the 57-year-old to sleep with her bedroom windows open, exposing her to the airborne asbestos.

Fibres are Dangerous when Inhaled

The material was once popular in the building trade for its insulation and fire-retardant properties. However, after inhalation of its fibres was proved to cause asbestosis and the inoperable cancer mesothelioma, asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999.

Council took a Month to Inspect

Ms Low first noticed the exposed asbestos when she was around the back of her house.

"I noticed that the soffit boards were broken," the householder said. "It took a month for someone to come out to us and the man from the council took one look at it and said it was asbestos and it was beginning to degrade."

Specialist Disposal Necessary

The council advised Mrs Low that the material would have to be disposed of by a specialist contractor. "That happened weeks ago but we are still waiting for them to come and haul it all out," she said.

"I've been on the phone to the council about 12 times since December. They don't seem to think it's a priority, but we do."

Ms Low explained that her lung condition forces her to sleep with her bedroom window open, through which fibres were entering. "We looked on the internet and the [asbestos fibres] that we saw online are very similar to these.

"I'm very angry because I thought that once they discovered it was asbestos it would be a priority job."

Is Money the Problem for Council?

Ms Low suggested the council's apparent reluctance to act promptly is financially driven. "I think they are waiting until the new budget in April, but I don't think that should happen. I can't wait that long, especially since I've been waiting since December."

Perth and Kinross Council said in a statement repairs would be undertaken "imminently" but that it did not hear of Ms Low's asbestos problem until well after Christmas.

"Perth and Kinross Council takes the complaints of this nature very seriously," a spokesperson said.

"The council arranged for the soffit boards, which are on the exterior of the building, to be inspected and sampled by a licensed asbestos consultant after the tenant contacted us in January."

Confirming the material as asbestos cement, the spokesperson added that since the asbestos is as yet undisturbed, it is not believed to constitute "an immediate danger".

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