Coonabarabran fire victims warned of asbestos hazards

RESIDENTS returning to bushfire-damaged properties in the Coonabarabran area are being warned of the danger of stirring up deadly asbestos fibres as they sift through debris.

The recent bushfire in the Warrumbungle Shire destroyed more than 50 homes and many more buildings.

Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia (ADFA) president Barry Robson said residents returning to fire-damaged homes needed to be aware of the asbestos risk.

“People returning to burnt-out properties who are going through the remains and the ashes could put themselves in danger of being exposed to the deadly fibres by disturbing the fibres,” he told ABC radio yesterday.

Mr Robson said a high proportion of rural properties built before 1987 contained asbestos products, either in houses, sheds or water pipes.

Once damaged, there was the potential for asbestos fibres to be released in the atmosphere, he said.

Mr Robson recommended that people wear masks and disposable suits before handling any material. 

The Warrumbungle Shire has confirmed a committee is working on a plan to dispose of asbestos.

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