A former electrician who worked in Canberra houses in the 1970s fears hundreds of tradespeople could have been exposed to Mr Fluffy asbestos without realising it.
And the ACT CFMEU says asbestos -including the ''fairy floss'' amosite insulation - was a daily concern for workers in the ACT going into houses and commercial buildings.
Secretary Dean Hall has called for an audit to be undertaken on all commercial premises built before 2003 to confirm that the required asbestos management plan has been completed.
The Canberra Times revealed on Thursday that while the ACT government was spending $2 million deconstructing a home in Downer, there had been no investigation into the commercial buildings that could still contain the dangerous substance. Non-residential buildings were not surveyed along with houses built before 1980 under the loose-fill asbestos removal program carried out by the Commonwealth then ACT governments.
Mr Hall said while experienced builders and tradespeople knew about the general risk of asbestos, the union was finding that younger workers, commonly apprentices, were not aware of the dangers.
But he said the risk was potentially in every building.
''On a daily basis we have reports of people who have inadvertently exposed asbestos,'' he said.
There was no knowledge of which homes contained Mr Fluffy asbestos and many commercial premises did not have an up-to-date asbestos management plan in place or even have one at all. Mr Hall called for an audit to be completed on all commercial buildings built before 2003 - the year asbestos was banned in Australia - to make sure all properties had been tested for asbestos.
Sydney resident Arthur Carruthers moved to the ACT in the early 1970s and worked for a Canberra company and then ran his own business as an electrician before returning to NSW in 1979. He recalls tradespeople routinely crawling into roof spaces
and walking through loose infill insulation in many homes in the capital without taking any safety measures.
''We used to remove roof tiles to allow light into the work area. Millions of fibres could be seen in the light shaft,'' Mr Carruthers said.
He said while he had no way of determining whether the substance he regularly encountered was the dangerous Mr Fluffy product, it was common knowledge among the workers the insulation was asbestos.
But at the time the dangers of the material were not widely known.
It was not until the early 1980s that the use of amosite asbestos was banned in Australia and it would be a further eight years before the Commonwealth's survey was carried out in the ACT.
''You knew you were breathing it in,'' Mr Carruthers said. ''You could pick handfuls of it up and it would float away … any movement at all, you just had to walk through it.''
Mr Carruthers said he had recently undergone a medical check-up and had mentioned his asbestos concerns to his doctor and would soon undergo an X-ray.
Between 1968 and 1978 a Canberra company trading as Mr Fluffy insulated more than 1000 homes in the ACT and region with loose-fill amosite asbestos and an unknown number of non-residential buildings with gabled roofs.