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Countless numbers of homes, businesses and properties have been damaged leaving property owners thousands homeless and waiting for floodwaters to subside before commencing the heartbreaking task of cleaning up or rebuilding after homes and businesses have been damaged.

Cherie Barber, Ambassador for the National Asbestos Awareness campaign is urging those impacted to be wary of potential dangers posed by damaged asbestos-containing materials found in homes, buildings, structures and flood debris that may have washed onto their properties.

“When homes and other buildings containing asbestos are damaged or destroyed during floods, wind and storms, asbestos-containing materials can become eroded, disturbed, broken or friable causing a health risk to homeowners, property owners, property managers and the community if these materials aren’t managed correctly and disposed of safely,” Ms Barber said.

“Before commencing the clean-up, to protect themselves, their families and communities; property owners must visit to learn how to identify and manage asbestos safely.

“They should also contact their local Council or Emergency Services for important information about asbestos, and if asbestos needs to be removed, people should only use professional licenced asbestos removalists because it’s not worth the risk,” she said.

Asbestos was used in the manufacture of more than 3000 building and decorator products that can still be found in any brick, weatherboard, clad or fibro home built or renovated prior to 1990. It was used everywhere and may be in many forms including flat or corrugated sheets (fibro) used for walls, ceilings, roofing or in products such as pipes, electrical conduit, eaves, wall and floor tiles and other structures including garages and garden sheds. 

In many coastal regions hit hard by the current flood disaster, often original ‘weekenders or shacks’ were constructed from flat and corrugated (fibro) sheeting including external and internal walls and ceilings, while in rural and regional areas, homes; fences, storage sheds, chook sheds, out houses and stock sheds may have been constructed from asbestos-containing materials.

Asbestos was also commonly used in the construction of commercial and non-residential properties such as shops or public buildings prior to December 2003.

“It’s important that property owners and volunteers do not walk on corrugated asbestos roofs or enter any buildings until authorised to do so by Council or Emergency Services,” Ms Barber said.

“Erosion, heavy rains, winds and tree branches may have caused additional damage to already aged asbestos roofs as well as the walls of the structure. While homes, commercial properties and other structures (sheds, garages and stock sheds etc.) may be structurally unsound and vulnerable to collapse. 

“Other potential hazards property owners need to avoid include damaged asbestos-containing materials, sharp edges, protruding nails and broken materials including glass and timber that could be found in building rubble, damaged structures and flood debris,” said Ms Barber.

“When it comes to managing asbestos, the first rule is, if you think a building material, product or debris may contain asbestos, treat it as if it is asbestos and take all the necessary precautions in line with regulations,” She said.

“When storms and floods hit, whole buildings and even stockpiled asbestos-containing materials (particularly flat or corrugated sheeting commonly known as fibro) can be picked up by floodwaters and moved from one location to another.

“So, even if your home was built after 1990, it is possible that during floods, miscellaneous debris including asbestos-containing materials from elsewhere can end up on your property and pose a risk.

“Should you find displaced structures and debris containing asbestos on your property, it’s vital that these materials are managed safely and in line with regulations,” Ms Barber said.

Homeowners, commercial and rural property owners and managers should visit  for information on how to identify asbestos-containing building materials and decorator products and find out what they need to know to manage asbestos safely following storms and floods.