Recent heavy rains and flooding left behind a trail of damage and debris in many areas of the state. While community leaders might be ready to tackle the task of cleaning up and rebuilding, it is important to keep human and environmental health in mind before getting started.

“Kentuckians face a number of health and safety issues and compliance hazards when dealing with how to handle and properly dispose of storm debris,” said Amanda Gumbert, extension water quality liaison for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “It may seem like a monumental task, but there are some guidelines to help.”

The Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection emphasizes those cleaning up should consider all demolition debris from homes or buildings as potentially asbestos-contaminated material. Gumbert said that means the debris needs to stay in a wet condition from demolition to final disposal.

“You can take debris to a permitted construction or demolition landfill or a contained landfill,” she said. “Don’t burn debris from homes or businesses, including plastics, structural materials, roofing, insulation, siding, appliances, carpet, furniture, and other household items.”

Burning construction and demolition debris can release harmful compounds into the air that can threaten human health, especially in people with asthma or compromised immune systems.

When possible, recycling is the preferred disposal method for many kinds of debris, including appliances. All household garbage and residential waste must go to a contained landfill.

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