FRANKFORT, Ky. -- The Division for Air Quality (DAQ) is issuing guidelines to Kentuckians in storm-stricken counties for the safe handling of building debris which may contain asbestos. All debris from damaged buildings should be kept thoroughly wetted until final disposal to prevent the potential release of asbestos particles. Such debris should never be burned and must be properly disposed of in an approved landfill.
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that is commonly found in a variety of building construction materials such as roofing shingles, ceiling and floor tiles, pipe insulation, and flame retardant products like asbestos cement. When asbestos-containing materials are damaged or disturbed, microscopic fibers become airborne and can be inhaled into the lungs, where they can cause significant health problems.
Last month’s storms generated massive amounts of debris, and the jumbled nature of the debris makes asbestos testing extremely difficult. For this reason, all debris containing building or demolition materials should be treated as if it contains asbestos, and properly handled.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends keeping asbestos-containing debris thoroughly wetted to prevent asbestos particles from being released. DAQ recommends hosing demolition debris with water to keep it continuously wet until disposal in a landfill. Containers and tractor trailers should be covered before transporting debris to landfills.
Open burning of demolition debris is dangerous and illegal. Burning this debris can release many types of toxic materials, including asbestos.
For more information on safely handling and disposing of storm debris, Kentuckians can call 888-287-6529. A complete copy of the guidelines can be found on the Division for Air Quality's homepage at www.air.ky.gov.
Information on the disaster recovery, relief efforts, safety tips and important information is available www.kyem.ky.gov.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.