A total of 50% of the premises affected by the fires that struck the Knysna and Plettenberg Bay region on June 7, contained asbestos, reports the Knysna-Plett Herald.
This came to light through a survey conducted by an accredited asbestos service provider appointed by the Eden District Municipality in the wake of the disaster.
Measures to prevent asbestosis, a chronic lung condition caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos, have been put in place through combined efforts of Knysna and Eden District municipalities.
“The Knysna Municipality has committed themselves to investigate the appointment of a service provider to safely dispose of all material on asbestos-affected premises in the Knysna region and to ensure that the current threat of exposed asbestos in the environment will be addressed as a matter of urgency,” said Eden’s manager of municipal health and environmental management, Johan Compion.
“An accredited industrial hygienist appointed by the Eden District Municipality will be instructed to establish the current ambient asbestos levels present in the atmosphere. Three measurement points within the affected areas will be identified and measurement instruments will be set up to calculate the current status of air quality,” said Compion.
An update on the progress of the Garden Route Rebuild Initiative, a project run from the office of the Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Alan Winde, confirms that all fire-destroyed properties that contain asbestos have been identified.
“Knysna has provided a list of accredited asbestos removal companies. The process of obtaining demolition certificates will include a requirement that owners of asbestos-identified properties must demonstrate that the asbestos is safely removed,” said Bronwynne Jooste, spokesperson for Winde.
What is asbestosis?
Asbestosis is a chronic (long-term) lung condition caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a general term for a group of minerals made of microscopic fibres.
It does not present a health risk if it is undisturbed, but if material containing asbestos is chipped, drilled, broken or allowed to deteriorate, it can release a fine dust that contains asbestos fibres.
When the dust is breathed in, the asbestos fibres enter the lungs and can damage the lungs over time. For asbestosis to develop, prolonged exposure to relatively high numbers of fibres is necessary.
– Caxton News Service