After a house fire, homeowners face a wide variety of headaches and heartbreaks and when the fire and its aftermath reveal the presence of asbestos in a home that can become a life-threatening event. After the recent fires in southern California, many homeowners conducting cleanup operations found their homes contained hazardous materials which needed to be disposed of, including the hazardous mineral fiber asbestos. If inhaled, asbestos can potentially cause a number of lung conditions and cancers in humans. In order to prevent homeowners from being exposed to dangerous substances during the fire cleanup, government officials have authorized contractors to perform screening and disposal applications. This service is being provided free of charge for the southern California fire victims. During the disposal, workers sift through the fire remains searching for hazardous materials. These are marked with red paint so that they may be taken to a toxic waste site. Everything else is labeled in green paint and disposed of as general refuse.
Air samples are being taken in the area to evaluate levels of toxic materials such as asbestos. The air samples taken in the fire-ravaged neighborhoods will determine if workers there are at risk. Many of the houses destroyed by the fires were constructed prior to US bans on using asbestos as a building material, and their burned remnants might pose a danger to cleaning crews. The contractors are taking precautions against exposure by donning hazardous materials cleanup suits. These suits, however, are generally not available to the public, and residents are urged to allow the contractors to do the cleaning. Homeowners in the area report they are pleased with the work done by the cleanup crews. Government officials encourage residents to take advantage of the free cleanup since it will prevent private citizens and local garbage collectors from having to handle asbestos and other dangerous materials. The cleanup and disposal service will help many California residents by keeping them free from the dangers present after the fire in the toxic materials which were burned, but they must turn in the proper forms on time, or they could face the cost of paying for the hazardous waste disposal themselves.