Safe Clean Up of Ash

Safe Clean Up of Ash title=
Safe Clean Up of Ash
15 Comments
Reads 8182

Update by Public Health Dept.
December 13, 2017

If your home was impacted by the Thomas fire, here are some health precautions to take after you return home and before you begin the clean-up process.

We do not advise ash clean-up while ash is still falling and the situation is unpredictable. Wait until conditions improve.

Avoid skin contact with ash. Ash from burned homes and other items will likely contain metals, chemicals, and potentially asbestos, items that may be considered toxic if breathed in or touched with wet skin. If you do get ash on your skin, wash it off immediately. Some wet ash can cause chemical burns.

Inhaled ash may be irritating to the nose, throat and lungs. In order to avoid possible health problems, the following steps are recommended.

  • Avoid doing activities that stir up ash. Do not allow children to play in ash or be in an area where ash-covered materials are being disturbed. Wash ash off toys before children play with them.
  • Clean ash off pets.
  • Wear a tight fitting N95 respirator mask, gloves, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when cleaning up ash.
  • Avoid getting ash into the air as much as possible. Avoid sweeping it up dry. Use water and wet cloth or mop to clean items and surfaces.
  • Under any circumstances, DO NOT USE LEAF BLOWERS!

 

If you have symptoms that may be related to exposure to smoke or soot, consult your doctor. Symptoms include repeated coughing, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, palpitations, headaches and nausea or unusual fatigue or lightheadedness.


Source: Santa Barbara County
December 9, 2017

When houses burn, asbestos fibers from building materials may become airborne, creating a potentially hazardous situation. Cleanup can make conditions worse if not done properly. Handling materials that contain asbestos can be hazardous to your health.
 
Note: Anyone with heart or lung problems should not do ash cleanup.
 
 For general ash cleanup:
  • Use damp cloths, spray areas lightly with water, and direct ash-filled water to ground areas, and away from the runoff system. Try to use the minimum amount of water necessary to avoid overtaxing runoff systems.
  • Use vacuums with HEPA filters, sweep gently with a broom.
  • Take your car to the car wash.
  • Wash off toys that have been outside in the ash; clean ash off pets.
  • Avoid any skin contact with the ash (wear gloves, long-sleeved shirts).
  • Use a high-quality shop/industrial vacuum outfitted with a high-efficiency particulate filter and a disposable collection filter bag. Ash can be bagged and put into trash cans, so it will not be stirred up again into the air. Special attachments can be used to clean ash from gutters, so that it will not blow back over outdoor spaces. Attachments and disposable bags are available from most hardware stores.
  • For more information, see Asbestos and Fire Cleanup – Precautions
 
DON’T:
  • Allow kids to play in the ash.
  • Use leaf blowers! Click here to learn more about safe leaf blower use.
 
Information provided by the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District.  Click here for more information on air quality.
Login to add Comments

15 Comments

Toggle Comments (Show)
a-1532118191 Dec 14, 2017 01:46 PM
Safe Clean Up of Ash

I don't understand these folks who make such a fuss about all of us trying to be safe? Why is it so important to you people to try to discredit or otherwise belittle any efforts or information aimed at keeping us safe? What is your problem with people trying to protect themselves?

a-1532118191 Dec 13, 2017 01:50 PM
Safe Clean Up of Ash

The street sweeping machine came by this morning, and while I appreciate that they removed some of the ash, they also created a huge cloud of dust in the process. It was like a fog of ash that stayed in the air for quite a while.

a-1532118191 Dec 13, 2017 01:48 PM
Safe Clean Up of Ash

the problem is the overreaction. we will all be fine. take the normal precautions.

a-1532118191 Dec 13, 2017 01:09 PM
Safe Clean Up of Ash

Diluted poison is still poison. And the problem is that if you don't clean up the deposited ash carefully, you end up aerosolizing the invisible 2 micron particles that do the damage. Why don't you do us all a favor and quit contradicting expert advice.

a-1532118191 Dec 11, 2017 09:57 AM
Safe Clean Up of Ash

Here's what less excitable agencies have to say about this: "Safe Cleanup of Fire Ash "The recent fires have deposited large amounts of ash on indoor and outdoor surfaces in areas near the fire. Questions have been raised about possible dangers from contact with the ash and safe disposal procedures. The ash deposited by forest fires is relatively nontoxic and similar to ash that might be found in your fireplace. ..." Air Resources Board, CA. Please calm down and give adult and realistic advice to people.

jqb Dec 14, 2017 01:40 PM
Safe Clean Up of Ash

"It is in fact, as noted, not different from what is burned in fireplaces, fire pits and BBQs." Ah, so, the evil liar is back, telling more evil lies. Here is the text that comes after the part that the sociopath snipped out of context from https://www.arb.ca.gov/carpa/toolkit/emerg-response/safe-cleanup-fire-ash.pdf "However, any ash will contain small amounts of cancer-causing chemicals. In addition, fire ash may be irritating to the skin, especially to those with sensitive skin. If the ash is breathed, it can be irritating to the nose and throat and may cause coughing. Exposure to ash in air might trigger asthmatic attacks in people who already have asthma. Therefore, in order to avoid possible health problems the following is recommended." Read the recommendations, and ignore evil lying sociopaths who misrepresent information for unfathomable sick motivations.

jqb Dec 14, 2017 01:41 PM
Safe Clean Up of Ash

"It is in fact, as noted, not different from what is burned in fireplaces, fire pits and BBQs." Ah, so, the evil liar is back, telling more evil lies. Here is the text that comes after the part that the sociopath snipped out of context from https://www.arb.ca.gov/carpa/toolkit/emerg-response/safe-cleanup-fire-ash.pdf "However, any ash will contain small amounts of cancer-causing chemicals. In addition, fire ash may be irritating to the skin, especially to those with sensitive skin. If the ash is breathed, it can be irritating to the nose and throat and may cause coughing. Exposure to ash in air might trigger asthmatic attacks in people who already have asthma. Therefore, in order to avoid possible health problems the following is recommended." Read the recommendations, and ignore evil lying sociopaths who misrepresent information for unfathomable sick motivations.

jqb Dec 14, 2017 01:33 PM
Safe Clean Up of Ash

" At any given moment the likelihood of house ash raining down is minute compared to forest ash... and the same for the smoke." This is a logic error. It's not the stuff that doesn't matter that matters, it's the stuff that does matter. No amount of benign ash is relevant; it does not "dilute" toxic ash. The dilution is based on ppm within the air itself ... but many substances are toxic at very low concentration.

a-1532118191 Dec 14, 2017 12:53 PM
Safe Clean Up of Ash

As the person taking a position contradictory to the facts, it's your job to supply some evidence, not the sane people.

a-1532118191 Dec 14, 2017 12:39 PM
Safe Clean Up of Ash

Rex, you offer no proof that the ash is "in fact, quite toxic" so your post is in fact irresponsible. The temptation to overreact to crisis is not reserved for media only--ordinary people can run around with their heads cut off. The VAST percentage of the ash that is falling is without question from burning brush and trees. It is in fact, as noted, not different from what is burned in fireplaces, fire pits and BBQs. While some fear these fires as well, they are clearly not going to send people to their death beds by themselves. Please count to 10 or 100 or 1000 and please stop aggression toward those who don't go along with the hysteria.

a-1532118191 Dec 14, 2017 12:39 PM
Safe Clean Up of Ash

Rex, you offer no proof that the ash is "in fact, quite toxic" so your post is in fact irresponsible. The temptation to overreact to crisis is not reserved for media only--ordinary people can run around with their heads cut off. The VAST percentage of the ash that is falling is without question from burning brush and trees. It is in fact, as noted, not different from what is burned in fireplaces, fire pits and BBQs. While some fear these fires as well, they are clearly not going to send people to their death beds by themselves. Please count to 10 or 100 or 1000 and please stop aggression toward those who don't go along with the hysteria.

jqb Dec 14, 2017 10:23 AM
Safe Clean Up of Ash

Here is the article that quote is from: https://www.arb.ca.gov/carpa/toolkit/emerg-response/safe-cleanup-fire-ash.pdf As you can see, the person who posted it is an evil liar, as he left out all the other details.

a-1532118191 Dec 13, 2017 12:13 PM
Safe Clean Up of Ash

You are misinterpreting their statements. Ash *on the ground* (that's what they mean by "deposited") is relatively safe. But ash in the air, and by extension, in your lungs, is NOT safe. Please stop spreading this misinformation on these comment boards.

a-1532118191 Dec 11, 2017 10:44 AM
Safe Clean Up of Ash

REX, you're clearly not wrong in your viewpoint except in the area of proportionality. 200,000 acres of burning scrub and forest is going to dilute the toxicity of the 700+ structures that have burned. At any given moment the likelihood of house ash raining down is minute compared to forest ash... and the same for the smoke.

REX OF SB Dec 11, 2017 10:05 AM
Safe Clean Up of Ash

But see, that's the problem. Many houses, other buildings and vehicles have also been burned to cinders, so these aren't strictly "forest fire" ashes, and are, in fact, quite toxic.

Please Login or Register to comment on this.