Gaythorne residents told they can breathe easy following tests on a former asbestos factory


JANUARY 12, 2015 12:00AM

RESIDENTS living near a former asbestos factory in Brisbane have been told there is no health risk.

Mark and Tom

Tests commissioned by a State Government taskforce at five homes in streets around the old Wunderlich plant at Gaythorne confirmed “trace amounts’’ of asbestos in dust in the roof cavities but not at dangerous levels.

But investigations will continue to establish whether people who lived nearby during the 47 years the factory was operating have increased incidences of cancers or other asbestos-related diseases.

“This is excellent news for the residents of Gaythorne but our task is not over,’’ Local Government Minister David Crisafulli said.

Environmental officers took air samples and compared them with benchmarks from another suburb.

Asbestos debris sits near a public footpath through light bushland off Bellevue Avenue in Gaythorne. The path, bushland and properties are near to the old Wunderlich asbestos factory. Photo: Claudia Baxter

“The results from the air testing have shown that for all houses tested, the level of airborne asbestos fibres in the samples are similar to other areas in Brisbane that are not near any known asbestos manufacturing or disposal sites,” a taskforce report says.

“On this basis, the airborne asbestos levels in the tested houses do not present an increased level of health risk to the occupants.”

In the next phase of the investigation houses in a 1km radius of the old factory, which closed in 1983, will be tested to establish if there is any ongoing risk from clouds of asbestos dust that used to be carried by the wind.

“We will be conducting further testing in homes and surrounds to give the community the certainty they deserve,” Mr Crisafulli said.

Resident Tanya Gibson welcomed the latest results. “I feel a lot more comfortable that the air I’m breathing is no worse than anyone else’s,” she said.

Another resident, Cheryl Holmes, said she was happy with the news that there was no risk today but said she was “more concerned about the children that grew up here”.

Former residents recall climbing on piles of waste at the factory, taking broken sheets to use in cubby houses and playing in a local creek that was contaminated with asbestos. Daryll Bellingham, who lived in the same street as the factory for about 12 years, said he was keen for the results of ongoing analysis of cancer registers and other health records to see if there was a cluster of cases among former residents of the suburb.

“I am concerned. I would be really quite sure I would have asbestos on my lungs, as my father did and my mother has,” he said.