How bushfires create asbestos threat
Bushfire damage to a building (house, garage or shed) may affect the integrity of building materials and threaten your health. The presence of asbestos in damaged or destroyed properties is a concern.
Following a fire, asbestos material – including clumps and fibres – may remain on the property. It can risk your health if the asbestos contaminated ash or debris is disturbed and you inhale it.
This could occur, for example, while people are searching for valuable items in destroyed or damaged properties.
How you can reduce your risk
If bushfire has damaged your building, you should not enter your property until emergency services, utilities companies or your local council tells you it is safe.
When you do visit your property, whether you believe asbestos may be present or not, wear protective clothing, including:
- sturdy footwear and heavy-duty work gloves
- disposable coveralls (with long sleeves and trousers)
- P2 face masks
- keep children (and animals) clear of the site
- moisten the ash with water to minimise dust and keep damp but do not use high pressure water sprays
- don’t bury building rubble – it may contain hazardous materials including asbestos
- don't move or spread ash and debris around your property
- don’t attempt to cleanup buildings either damaged or destroyed by bushfires, particularly if you know asbestos is present. Only licensed professionals should remove and dispose of asbestos.
You can find further information, specific to each state and territory, at:
- New South Wales: Property hazards following bushfires factsheet
- Victoria: Asbestos hazards factsheet and Fire damaged asbestos materials
- Northern Territory: Asbestos during fires
- Queensland: Returning home after a bushfire and Asbestos and fires
- Australian Capital Territory: ACT Asbestos Taskforce
- South Australia: Fire and water damage
- Western Australia: Fire recovery and Fire damaged asbestos
- Tasmania: Returning home after bushfire and Asbestos safety in fire damaged properties
You can also find further Australian Government information at:
- Australian Government Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency
- enHealth Asbestos – a guide for householders and the general public