A list of people, places and things to help San Diego live through and recover from the wildfires.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

SAFETY TIPS: Ash Cleanup

Posted @ 10:26 AM

Ash deposited on indoor and outdoor surfaces near the fire is relatively non-toxic and is similar to ash that might be found in your fireplace. However, any ash:
may be irritating to the skin, especially sensitive skin
will contain small amounts of cancer-causing chemicals
can be irritating to the nose and throat if breathed, and may cause coughing
may trigger asthmatic attacks in people who already have asthma.

In order to avoid possible health problems, the following is recommended:
· Do not allow children to play in the ash or with unwashed toys.
· Clean ash off house pets.
· Wear gloves, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants to avoid skin contact.
· If you do get ash on your skin, wash it off as soon as possible.
· Rinse homegrown fruit or vegetables thoroughly before eating them.
· Avoid disseminating ash into the air; do not use leaf blowers or non-HEPA filter vacuums.
· Wear well-fitting dust masks; those rated N-95 or P-100 provide better protection than simple dust or surgical masks (persons with heart or lung disease should consult a physician before using a mask).
· Gentle sweeping of indoor and outdoor hard surfaces followed by wet mopping is usually best.
· A damp cloth or wet mop may be all that is needed on lightly dusted areas; if ash is wet down, use as little water as possible
· The Regional Water Control Quality Board asks that you avoid washing ash into storm drains if possible.
· Collected ash may be disposed of in your regular trash collection. Ash may be stored in plastic bags or other containers that will prevent it from being disturbed.

Ash and any debris inside burned structures may contain more toxic substances than forest fire ash because of the many synthetic and other materials present in buildings, requiring a cautious approach. Older buildings in particular may contain asbestos and lead.

-- N. Ossola, San Diego County

No comments: