Risky clean-up after asbestos flew through the air in storms

Asbestos that lodged itself in Mr Wusts trimming during the storms.
Asbestos that lodged itself in Mr Wusts trimming during the storms. Trish Bowman

ASBESTOS flew through the air during recent storms that swept through the Capricorn Coast, and Yeppoon resident Derel Wust is asking the community to be aware of the dangers.

Mr Wust has a home in the Cooee Bay area situated close to numerous older-style homes with asbestos roofs and guttering.

This has never been an issue until recent strong wind gusts ripped sheeting from a nearby house, sending asbestos missiles through the air.

"We had asbestos guttering and roof sheeting strewn around our yard, causing some damage to paving and trimmings, but more worrying are the health concerns relating to the damaged materials," Mr Wust said.

"We have a lot of homes on the Coast with asbestos building materials, which is fine when it is kept in good condition, but not so fine when it is left in disrepair.

"Add to the mix major winds in cyclonic conditions and it becomes a real problem."

Mr Wust said the letting agent for the damaged neighbouring property had repairs and professional asbestos removalists deal with the immediate problem.

"I think it is vital that people understand the seriousness of health concerns related to un-maintained asbestos," Mr Wust said.

"You simply can't be negligent when it comes to asbestos.

"I believe buildings with asbestos should be part of a register to be able to appropriately maintain and manage problem areas."

Darren Ireland from Darren's Asbestos Removal has been in the business of asbestos removal for 31 years, and he agreed that unmaintained asbestos could have dramatic health repercussions if not handled in the correct manner.

Mr Ireland said it was important that all asbestos repairs or removals be done by a qualified technician to prevent exposure to possible health hazards.

"Asbestos should be in good condition and it must be sealed appropriately," Mr Ireland said.

"In the case of fallen asbestos, the contaminated material needs to be sprayed, wrapped in 200UM plastic and disposed of by a qualified and registered technician.

"Soil around the contaminated area to a depth of 100mm must also be removed.

"Our technicians wear full safety clothing and transport contaminants in a specially registered vehicle.

"They have medical check-ups every six months."

Mr Ireland said rental properties with asbestos building materials would soon come under the same legislation as commercial buildings.

"From August 2013 all rental properties will require an asbestos report and any problem areas will need to be rectified within a month," he said.

"I believe the more stringent regulations will offer a better level of safety for the community, including those who currently underestimate the ramifications of handling contaminated materials.

Asbestos facts

  • Not everyone exposed to asbestos fibres will contract an asbestos-related disease.
  • In fact, the chances are low with a single exposure.
  • The risk increases with the number of exposures and with higher concentrations of fibres.
  • Asbestos can cause health problems when fibres become airborne and are inhaled.
  • Once inside the lungs, most asbestos fibres are removed by the body's natural defences.
  • However, some fibres can become trapped in the lungs.
  • In some individuals, this can result in serious lung diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma that may develop years later (typically a 10- to 40-year latency period).

Topics:  asbestos capricon coast health concerns yeppoon

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