Australian Bush Fires and Asbestos Risk
Ashes and debris of burnt home sites could hold harmful asbestos posing a potential health risk.
Homeowners, emergency service workers and media reporters could be exposing themselves to harmful asbestos by entering contaminated burnt home sites.
Most buildings constructed before 1990 will contain asbestos and the ash left after a fire could contain potentially harmful particles which can cause health implications if disturbed and inhaled.
If asbestos contamination is correctly managed there is almost no public health risk, as such EHA wish to advise that unless a property has been declared safe by a qualified Environmental Health Professional, burnt properties should not be entered.
President of Environmental Health Australia, Philip Swain said, "EHA's thoughts and condolences are with all those affected. These fires are some of the worst Australia has seen and the health implication are far reaching. Only qualified professionals with appropriate personal protection equipment should be accessing properties with a risk of asbestos. Particularly after a fire."
For public safety, interim measures are put in place following a fire by Emergency Services and Environmental Health Professionals to prevent disturbance of asbestos particles.
The homeowner will then be responsible for a more thorough assessment and clean-up of the asbestos contamination.
Environmental Health Australia is committed to the enhancement of environmental health standards and services to the community through advocacy, promotion, education and leadership.
Environmental Health Australia, Samantha Smith