Coronavirus (COVID-19): If you need information about asbestos safety during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, please see our page here. If you need any general coronavirus information please see the Australian Government website. Asbestos related diseases also affect the respiratory system, just like coronavirus. If you have health concerns call your doctor or call the coronavirus hotline (24/7) - 1800 020 080.

Bushfire Safety Fact Sheet

Date created: Date modified: 12 Aug 2020

Asbestos is a potential hazard when returning to bushfire affected properties.

State and territories have issued advice and these links are provided below for your information.

Asbestos is present in 1 in 3 homes built prior to 1990, as well as many public buildings built in that time. During natural disasters like fires, bonded asbestos fibres can easily become loose and airborne.

The most likely time that exposure to asbestos could occur is during the building clean-up or demolition phase, when debris and materials are moved extensively.

However, exposure can also occur when walking around the site to assess damage. It is strongly recommended that personal protective equipment is worn. (see example of type of equipment here). 

There are precautionary measures that the public can take to protect themselves as much as possible, and authorities have advised on this.

Advice common across all Commonwealth, state and territory responsible authorities includes:

  • take all advice from emergency and clean up personnel on the ground
  • do not enter your property until you are advised that it is safe
  • wear a P2 face mask and protective clothing (such as sturdy boots and gloves) – whether you believe asbestos may be present or not
  • keep children (and animals) clear of the site
  • building rubble or debris should not be buried as it may contain hazardous materials including asbestos
  • don't spread ash and debris around your property, or move it extensively, particularly if asbestos materials were used in your home or other structures
  • moisten the ash with water to minimise dust and keep damp but do not use high pressure water sprays