Asbestos and Fire Cleanup−Precautions
When houses and buildings burn, asbestos fibers
can become airborne, creating a potentially hazardous situation.
Handling materials that contain asbestos can
be hazardous to your health.
Typically cleanup of asbestos-containing
materials is done by trained professionals with proper safety
Download lists (PDF files) of certified
Consultants, and certified
Contractors, and see this page
for additional information.
Many buildings constructed before 1981 have
asbestos-containing materials. Buildings constructed after 1981 will
have less of these materials, however, burning of even relatively
smaller amounts of these materials may release asbestos fibers into
the air. Asbestos is a known carcinogen and a respiratory hazard.
The only way to determine if asbestos is present
in a burned-out area is to have a certified asbestos consultant test
the material. While homeowners can conduct their own cleanups,
they often choose to have suspected or known asbestos-containing
materials removed by a licensed asbestos abatement contractor. When professionals clean up asbestos-containing
materials, the following safe handling practices are observed.
Avoid mixing of suspected asbestos-containing
materials with other debris.
Where asbestos-containing materials are
suspected to be mixed with debris, ALL debris is assumed to be
contaminated and should be adequately wetted, double-bagged in thick
plastic sheeting, recorded on a manifest and disposed of as
A survey by a certified asbestos
consultant and/or site technician may be conducted to separate
asbestos materials from other debris in order to reduce the
amount of debris that needs to be disposed of as
asbestos-containing waste, or to clear a site as non-hazardous.
The ONLY accepted test for bulk suspected
asbestos-containing materials is Polarized Light Microscopy;
testing is typically done to prove that there is NOT asbestos in
Adequate wetting is required for removal and
demolition for all asbestos-containing material.
For wetting small areas, use a spray
dispenser. For larger areas, use a water hose with a nozzle for
a fine, low-pressure spray or mist. When available, use water
mixed with a wetting agent or surfactant.
Wetting down vehicles prior to leaving the
property is advised. Respiratory protection and suitable Tyvek-style
clothing is advised during inspection of dry burn
sites. Decontamination of the clothing and breathing apparatus
is advised at the end of the inspection. Disposable Tyvek suits
should be disposed of as hazardous waste.
Where asbestos-containing materials are known
or assumed to be present, the debris should be stabilized by
wetting and covered with plastic sheeting until it is scheduled
to be removed. Wind-blown dry materials will release hazardous
Asbestos-containing materials must be disposed
of at a landfill approved to receive asbestos.
See this page for
additional information on asbestos, and asbestos contractors.