Asbestos – A Humanitarian Hazard

Authors: Charles Kelly*, CJKelly
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters
Keywords: Hazards, asbstos, risk management
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 41
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Asbestos is a limited risk hazard in its natural state, but the mining, processing and application of asbestos has created a significant technological hazard. The safe removal and disposal of asbestos has become a significant risk reduction undertaking. A physically destructive event like an earthquake in a country where asbestos use continues or has been historically high can result in a large number of broken pieces of asbestos, often relatively small, scattered across the disaster-scape. Safely removing this asbestos is significantly different from normal post disaster debris management or normal asbestos management procedures.

The paper reviews the nature of asbestos, as natural and technological hazards, and the challenges faced in safely managing asbestos in a humanitarian response in countries with high historical or current use of asbestos. The paper identifies a need for realistic practical short term post disaster asbestos management options combined with long term risk reduction to reduce the present and future impacts of asbestos on humanitarian operations and disaster survivors.

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