Low risk to public health from Southdown fire

Published: Tue 23 Dec 2008 03:56 PM
Low risk to public health from Southdown freezing works fire.
Auckland Medical Officer of Health, Dr Denise Barnfather, says the risks to the public remain very low from the fire at the Southdown freezing works site.
All the air and dust samples taken from the area downwind of the fire have been negative for asbestos.
”While the building is known to include asbestos containing materials, the fire has not released detectable amounts of asbestos into the air beyond the site perimeter,” says Dr Barnfather.
Dr Barnfather says that monitoring of the fire perimeter will continue until the fire is extinguished.
Auckland Regional Public Health Service advises that people in the affected area should avoid inhaling dust or debris from the fire. If in the path of smoke from the fire they should stay indoors, keeping their windows and doors shut. If they experience any health issues they should see their own doctor or an emergency department.
“Although risk of exposure to asbestos remains low, people may react to smoke and dust with a cough and sore throat, or by a worsening of asthma”, she says.
To date emergency hospital services have not noticed any increase in admissions with people suffering from respiratory irritation or asthma.
Editors’ Note
Airborne asbestos fibres may be inhaled and pose a risk to respiratory health after prolonged exposure.

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