Toxic Sweep Front Line Exposure Risk
In the fire aftermath, toxic sweep front line exposure risk is real and under reported.
The EPA is in town and is teaming up with the Army Corps of Engineers, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and other local organizations to plan a clean up of the fire debris that will likely last for months. It is a complicated process. There is the practical side of how to remove the rubble and dust from the destruction of thousands of buildings. And there is the very real emotional devastation for people whose homes burned to the ground. They have experienced the loss of their yards and gardens destroyed by the fire and the pain of never being able to replace personal belongings that held emotional memories.
There is much talk of the cost of this effort and of who is most capable of doing a good job. Should people trust the government to handle this effort? They will need to grant right of entry and sign over insurance reimbursements to qualify for the government clean up program. But, should they take the matters into their own hands and trust local contractors to do the job? What about hiring displaced workers who will happily take $15 per hour to haul off the mess?
The Toxic Sweep
The missing component in this “toxic sweep” is what happens to the people who do the clean up?What about the toxic sweep front line exposure risk? Should people use protective gear? The news shows photos of people sifting through debris. Some are wearing masks, some are wearing long clothing, but many are mask free and exposing skin to the toxic dust. Who is warning these people of the dangers of exposure to the toxic soup they are sifting through? The cost of increased cancer rates, infertility, autoimmune disease, heart disease, and immune dysregulation caused by exposure to the chemicals in the rubble will likely dwarf the clean up cost itself.
The alarming truth is that an unprecedented quantity of man-made chemicals has gone up in smoke and is coming down in ash. The array of toxics compounds that will be blowing in the wind and settling in the soil is astounding. Carcinogenic chemicals were released from building materials, computers, furniture, cook wear, body care products, cars, TVs, home pesticides, paints…. and the list goes on. Just because the smoke is dissipating, does not mean it is safe to go outside.
Clean Up Advice
I wish we had a massive vacuum (with a massive HEPPA/charcoal filter) to simply suck up all the dust and debris and take it away. The second half of the wish is there would be a safe place to take it to; where no future harm would come of it.
There is no risk-free clean up advice to be offered to the thousand of stressed and emotionally strapped people who have lost their homes. However, I implore everyone who will be working at “ground zero” to take precaution. From home-owners, to low-pay workers, to contractors and government employees: everyone should be thinking about the long term health risks involved in clean up.
Five Tips for Self Protection at the Front
Avoid being anywhere near
Close proximity to sound zero remains extremely toxic, especially if you are among the most vulnerable. The truth is, we are vulnerable. However, some are more so including; pregnant women, babies, children up to age 16, and the elderly. Chronic health condition will worsen with exposure as well. Heart disease, asthma, COPD, cancer, autoimmune disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia of any kind, autism, ADHD, and infertility are some of the conditions that will be negatively impacted.
If you must be there, use protective devices
An N95 or P100 mask is good, but truthfully may not be enough for the front lines of clean up. Cover all skin with long clothing and gloves; keep you neck covered because it is a particularly vulnerable area. Remove all protective layers before entering your home and put directly into the washer. Then get in the shower. Keep your shoes outside and wash them where debris will not go into your yard.
Avoid the avoidable
Exposure is a reality if you are at the front, despite using protective gear. Healthy people will have less long-term health risks if they cut down on other chemical exposures such as alcohol, sugar, tobacco, and chemicals used in the home. If you don’t know what chemicals you might be exposed to, go to EWG.org for some helpful resources.
Rest in a clean location.
Clean up of our bodies by our eliminative organs happens when we sleep. Create a sleep sanctuary that is as smoke and dust free as possible. This is a huge topic that will depend on many factors. If you have only one filter, put it in the room you sleep. Clean the dust in the room and then keep the dust out. Santa Rosa naturopathic doctor Bridget Simone has a great blog for more info http://bit.ly/drsominend.
Sleep when it is dark.
Now is not the time to push late into the night. When it is dark outside our bodies produce melatonin. Melatonin suppresses cortisol. Cortisol is surging in everyone at the front because it is a stressful situation. Lower your cortisol at night to recover from that stress and from the chemical exposure. Deep sleep under the influence of melatonin is essential to mitigate the “toxic soup” damage.
Wishing you safety today and in the future if you have and/or will experience front line exposure risk in the fire aftermath toxic sweep.
While I make every effort to publish correct up-to-date information, I am still learning and new information is constantly becoming available. I will double check all my facts and be as evidence based as possible. I welcome any comments, suggestions, or correction of errors. I take no money from drug or device companies. By reading this blog, you agree not to use any information on this website as medical advice to treat any medical condition in either yourself or others, including but not limited to patients that you are treating. Consult your own physician for any medical issues that you may be having. Under no circumstances shall Dr. Bonnie Nedrow, nor any guests or contributors to the podcast or blog, be responsible for damages arising from use of the podcast or blog.