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The Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia (ADFA) has issued a warning that asbestos could pose a problem for families across Australia who had homes or outbuildings damaged or destroyed by the recent bushfire catastrophe. 

The association fears that homes and outbuildings burnt in the recent bushfires could expose residents to asbestos contamination, placing their lives at risk.

ADFA President Barry Robson said that too many lives had been lost already to asbestos disease in Australia and that heartbroken families sifting through the remains of their houses searching for valuables may unwittingly expose themselves to asbestos contamination.

“Asbestos is found in many Australian houses built before 1984, as well as in out buildings and sheds on farms.

“When products containing asbestos are broken or disturbed, the asbestos becomes ‘friable’ and if particles are then inhaled then the disaster that has befallen so many can be compounded.

“There is simply no safe level of exposure to asbestos products. We know that people have died in this country as a result of very small levels of exposure.”

Mr Robson also counselled caution when engaging contractors to remove building material.

“Already the stories have started about shonks and spivs moving in to prey on heartbroken families cleaning up. If you need to engage contractors to remove material from your property, always seek and record their asbestos removal licence.  Unlicensed opportunists will be active now offering to assist with debris removal at cheap rates. These are the people who don’t remove safely and who dump in the bush.”