Asbestos & silica risk warning over New Zealand cyclone, floods

Asbestos & silica risk warning over New Zealand cyclone, floods

An asbestos removal company based in Auckland has reminded homeowners returning to their properties in flood and cyclone-affected areas to be mindful of the risks of silicate and asbestos material.

The Insurance Council of New Zealand has confirmed that more than 40,000 claims have been lodged following the devastation caused by both Cyclone Gabrielle and the recent flooding in Auckland.

There have been reports of homeowners returning to their properties and removing flood-damaged carpets that contained asbestos fibres, unknowingly exposing themselves.

Victor Boyd of Contaminated Site Solutions explained that
“as it goes on and there are not enough people to help with the recovery, it could get bigger.

“Because people are getting frustrated waiting and then attempt to start to remove some of the stuff themselves, not realising, you know.”

Boyd said that more public health messaging may be necessary over casual public safety attitudes and a general philosophy of “getting on with it”.

“It’s the old kiwi attitude, you know, she’ll be right, and we get stuck into it.

“They’re ripping it off, and it’s only when someone else comes along and says ‘hey guys, that might could be asbestos there’, that’s when they realise that they have to step back from it.”

Residents in affected areas are reminded to follow safety advice from local disaster management agencies and only return when it is safe to do so. They are also reminded that given the prevalence of asbestos in New Zealand properties, particularly given its wide use in homes, residents seek the help of a WorkSafe New Zealand licensed asbestos removalist to remove any asbestos-containing material.

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