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Managing asbestos in emergencies and disasters

Be aware and stay safe around asbestos after emergencies and disasters

Cleaning up after storms, bushfires, flood, buildings fires and other incidents can involve asbestos.

You can manage this safely.

Where can I find a licensed asbestos removalist?

SafeWork NSW publishes a list of licensed asbestos removalists.
House_in_floodwater

If your home or buildings have been damaged in a flood

Buildings and other structures damaged in a flood can leave health and safety hazards in the structure and debris. If a flood-damaged building was built before 1990, it is likely to contain asbestos. Debris may also contain asbestos.

Asbestos can be managed safely

Asbestos is found in many parts of homes built before 1990, including:

  • roofing  

  • ceilings and internal walls 

  • eaves  

  • fencing 

  • flue and water pipes 

  • fireplaces 

  • behind tiles 

  • flooring underlay. 

Before you start clean up use the Asbestos Checker or if possible, have a licensed asbestos assessor inspect your property to find where asbestos might be.

How do I remove asbestos immediately after a flood?

Using a licensed asbestos removalist is the best way to remove asbestos, but this may not be possible following a flood.

You can remove asbestos on your property safely:

  • Obtain 2 thick plastic bags, disposable plastic gloves or washing up gloves.

  • Obtain a P2 face mask – from the hardware store.  Masks used for COVID-19 safety won’t protect you.

  • Put on the mask and gloves before starting the clean-up

  • Pick up (don’t sweep) the pieces of asbestos and place in plastic bag

  • Remove gloves and face mask and place in plastic bag

  • Knot the top of the plastic bag and then place the knotted plastic bag into the second empty plastic bag and then knot the top

  • Clearly label the bag as asbestos.

  • Wash and clean hands thoroughly with soap and water

  • Keep asbestos waste separated from other waste you are removing

  • Follow advice from the local emergency services or council on where to put this separated waste

  • DO NOT put asbestos waste in red-lid bins or skip bins that aren’t meant for asbestos waste. This is really important to keep your family, volunteers and clean-up crews safe.

How do I repair my house if it has asbestos?

Once immediate clean up is done, you may need to repair and replace parts of your building. This could involve flooring, wall lining, ceilings and roofing. Remember, if your home is built before 1990 it is likely to contain asbestos.

Before you start repairs use the Asbestos Checker or have a licensed asbestos assessor inspect your property to find where asbestos might be.

We strongly recommend you use a licensed asbestos removalist to remove asbestos. If you choose to remove asbestos yourself follow the strict safety procedures to keep you and your family safe.