License article

It killed his grandfather. Now Thomas and his generation are at risk

IT WAS the middle of night and Eileen Day woke to strange noises. Creeping out of bed, one night last year, she discovered neighbours secretly removing their old asbestos roof under the cover of darkness.

''Fibres were going everywhere as they broke it up and dumped it in skip bins,'' she said. ''They didn't tell anyone or get permission. They have put the lives of their children at risk and also my grandchildren,'' she told The Sun-Herald.

Mrs Day knows too well the effects of asbestos. Her husband, Reg, died of the asbestos-related lung disease mesothelioma 10 years ago. He had suspected he breathed in the microscopic fibres when he was a teenager, 40 years previously, while helping his father build chicken sheds with asbestos sheeting.

Mrs Day now worries for future generations. She has grandchildren to think of, including five-month-old Thomas.

''Through no fault of his own, my husband has missed out on all this - meeting our four grandsons. If he had still been alive we would have been married 40 years this year.''

Mrs Day lives at Lalor Park, in western Sydney, a suburb built in the late 1950s with many asbestos fibro homes. She has had her house clad but has been told she still has some asbestos left in the walls of her kitchen that needs to be addressed.

Mrs Day said she had been contacted by Hurstville residents who complained their homes had been covered in asbestos fibres when neighbours used a high-pressure hose to clean their roof. When she alerted the council, she was told dealing with it was not the council's responsibility.