Asbestos concerns for renovation TV

2013-05-31_2319Channel Nine has denied it needed to screen a warning about asbestos following an episode of The Block.

In the May 15 episode of the series showed contestant Jarrod Coppock removing vermiculite, which can contain asbestos.

Slater & Gordon asbestos lawyer Margaret Kent told the Herald Sun the show sent the wrong message by repeatedly showing Coppock creating clouds of dust while removing the textured ceiling material without wearing a face mask.

“Anyone watching that footage in isolation will just assume that vermiculite is safe to disturb without wearing protective clothing or having to seek professional advice.”

Nine confirmed a hazardous materials audit was done on all properties and official tests for asbestos were conducted at the South Melbourne site.

“Nine did not consider it was appropriate to include an asbestos warning in relation to the vermiculite removal given (it) did not contain any asbestos,” Nine’s Victoria Buchan said.

Nine’s website highlights the potential dangers of disturbing vermiculite but Ms. Kent maintained it should have been related by the programme itself.

In 2011 Labor senator Lisa Singh told Parliament messages at the bottom of TV screens should be displayed to educate the public preparing to do renovations.

At the time a Nine spokesperson said, “We understand the dangers are real. As a result we will address the safety issues and assist in educating the Australian public.”


  1. House Rules had the same issue a week or two back. They discovered asbestos in the walls, adm all work was stopped and professionals came in to remove it. It was clear that it was a deadly material.

  2. While I don’t want a situation like in the US where they warn you about everything at the start of a program it would be good if they actually said something during those scenes to remind people of the potential hazards during renovations and to get the property checked before you start any work.

  3. Maybe they could do Telstra Pit Rules and get people renovating the pits, then helping to rollout the NBN so that I can have it before September.

  4. Secret Squirrel

    @Bella – as a minimum when renovating I would recommend a dust mask and safety glasses or goggles (and gloves most of the time). However, if working with asbestos or other known hazardous material, you should wear a properly fitted respirator of the appropriate type (depending on particle size). Plus, you’ll need a permit and prob have to be trained/licensed since asbestos dust is potentially harmful to anyone nearby/down wind.

    I don’t watch these programs but I think it would be irresponsible if the contestants were permitted to pull down ceilings or break down walls without at least dust masks and glasses/goggles, let alone to be broadcasting that.

  5. @nicks – In NSW 70,000 houses were built using asbestos cement (52% of all houses built) up to the 1960s, 25% of all new housing was clad in asbestos cement in Australia. In Vic. approx. 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.
    Asbestos has not been used in domestic building materials since the 1980s.
    It is therefore held that if your home was built or renovated before 1990, it is likely that it contains some form of asbestos building product – most likely asbestos cement sheeting.
    Sealed, painted fibro sheeting poses no known danger, until it is disturbed or broken up by “renovators”.
    I wear a mask to avoid inhaling house cleaning sprays, which I consider more harmful and dangerous than the fibro sheets still remaining in my house.
    “Coppock creating clouds of dust while removing the textured ceiling material without wearing a face mask” made for “look-at-me” TV, but was stupid. Not only by her, but by the production people watching on.
    In short (sorry David) fibro/asbestos is safe unless it is broken up for removal.
    The Telstra/NBN asbestos ducts were/are quite safe, until someone decided to smash them up for removal.

  6. Shouldn’t you wear a facemask anyway just to protect you from dust? Maybe they should send House Rules Health and Safety Steve over to remind people about safety first!

  7. Yikes…I have that stuff on a couple of my ceilings.Might contain?…how do you tell..or do you just wear a mask a la Michael Jackson all day long?

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