Jul 4, 2012 1:58 PM by Greg Boyce

Health concerns over ash and debris removal

The El Paso County Public Health Department has released a considerable amount of information on clean up of ash and other fire-damaged debris.

The ash deposited by forest fires is relatively nontoxic and similar to ash that might be found in your fireplace. However, any ash may contain unknown substances, including chemicals. In particular, ash and debris from burned structures may contain more toxic substances than forest fire ash, because of the many synthetic and other materials present in homes and buildings. For example, car batteries or mercury light bulbs may have been present in the buildings. In addition, older buildings have a greater potential of containing asbestos and lead.

Care should thus be taken when handling any materials from buildings that are either partially damaged by the fire (i.e., salvageable building materials remaining) or completely destroyed by the fire (i.e., only ash and debris remain). Protective clothing and equipment should be worn to avoid skin contact and inhalation of ash and other disturbed material.

All debris and ash should be handled in a manner that will minimize potential exposure to any unknown hazardous materials that could potentially be present in the debris. Soil under the area where the ash/debris was deposited should be scraped to ensure that all ash and building debris has been
removed from the site.

Materials must be thoroughly wetted to minimize dust, then packaged inside a 6-mil plastic sheeting liner and placed in an end-dump roll-off with the top of the roll-off sealed with the plastic sheeting to secure the contents during transport once the roll-off is loaded.  The roll-off can be taken to one of the landfills listed below. Please call the landfill contact listed below before loads are transported to alert the landfill that the material is coming,
confirm waste acceptance, and initiate a waste profile.

If you wish to bring the materials to a different landfill, please contact the landfill to ensure that they can accept the material.  The landfill should be informed that the material has come from the fire area. Contractors should consult with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) at (303) 844-5285 to determine required training and personal protective equipment that will be required for those handling this material.

A state-issued demolition permit is not required to remove the ash and debris from buildings that have been partially or completely destroyed. However, the ash and debris must be thoroughly wetted prior to handling to minimize dust.


If asbestos-containing material is known to be present in ash or debris in amounts greater than the trigger levels, they must be removed in accordance with Colorado Regulation No. 8, Part B. Trigger levels for single-family residential dwellings are 50 linear feet on pipes, 32 square feet on other surfaces or the volume equivalent of a 55 gallon drum. If this is not known, the material may handled and disposed of using the procedures outlined above.

The following landfill will accept Waldo Canyon Wildfire ash, soils, and debris and waste materials known to contain friable asbestos. Additional landfills may be added to this list or may be contacted directly.

1010 Blaney Road,
Colorado Springs, CO

The landfill listed above and the following landfills are accepting Waldo Canyon Wildfire ash, soils, and debris that do not contain friable asbestos. Additional landfills may be added to this list or may be contacted directly, as noted above.

10000 Squirrel Creek Road
Fountain, CO

8925 Rancho Colorado Blvd.
Fountain, CO (I-25 and exit 119) (almost to Pueblo County Line but still in El Paso County)

More information, click here

Metal debris must be washed clean of ash/debris prior to recycling. Concrete debris (foundations) must be disposed of at an approved landfill. If you wish to recycle this material, it must be inspected by a certified asbestos building inspector and found to be free of asbestos-containing materials prior to recycling.

Please contact Pikes Peak Regional Building Department, 2880 International Circle, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80910, Telephone: (719) 327-2880 to determine local permit requirements.

If you need additional information, please contact Charles Johnson at the Department's Solid Waste Unit at 303-692-3348 or Charles.Johnson@state.co.us , or the Asbestos Unit at 303-692-3100 or click here.

» There are multiple updates to this story. Please click here to get the latest information.


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