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Hazardous Materials & Flood Cleanups

Australia's Eastern states have experienced numerous flood events in recent years, breaking peak historical flood records along the way. These flood events cause significant damage to properties, people and animals. They also pose a number of risks, not only during the flood event but also within the cleanup process.

Homes can contain many hazardous materials including asbestos, paints, chemicals, batteries and oils which can be damaged, disturbed and spread around properties or into the environment. Following the flood event, mould issues generally arise due to moisture being retained within porous building materials.

Image source: 9 News

Whether you are covered by insurance or not, at some stage home owners or tenants will likely undertake some level of cleanup work at their properties. From initial bulk cleanup of mud and debris through to strip outs, at some point hands dirty among the debris. Properties can remain dormant for some period of time before being repaired, so it is important to ensure moisture issues are dealt with early and asbestos materials are made safe in the interim.

If your home or building was built prior to 1990, it will likely contain asbestos and lead paint products. Owners should be aware of hazardous materials in their properties as the presence of hazardous materials could determine the cleanup method required. All asbestos removal >10m2 should be undertaken by a licensed professional under controlled asbestos conditions and in accordance with the Code of Practice. Flood cleanup advice can be found on the NSW Government Website. It is also important to understand that asbestos containing materials, such as fibre cement, should never be pressure cleaned or blasted as this can result in major asbestos contamination events.

Image source: CDC

Large amounts of water ingress into a property can result in ongoing issues if moisture and mould is not dealt with appropriately. Building materials (such as timber, gyprock, plaster brick, fibre cement etc.) take on moisture and some materials, such as gyprock / plaster, can become degraded and lose it's integrity when exposed to such high moisture content. If moisture is not treated and strip outs undertaken poorly, this can lead to ongoing moisture and mould problems at the property.

Property assessments for hazardous materials and moisture/mould should be undertaken by competent hygienists (e.g. occupation hygienist or NSW Licensed Asbestos Assessors). For assistance in relation to flood remediation, contact HazChek.

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