Testing Results and Health of Exposed Workers
(Mike Eliason photo)
Source: Santa Barbara County
TESTING RESULTS AND HEALTH IN EXPOSED WORKERS
The Public Health Department has reviewed results from testing of mudslide samples and made recommendations to protect the health of exposed workers.
This mudslide event caused unknown amounts of potentially hazardous chemicals and untreated sewage to be swept into the mudslide debris that flowed through impacted areas. To guide decisions on the appropriate use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and appropriate decontamination procedures for first responders working in the area, the Incident Management Team conducted testing of mudslide samples taken from 10 different locations in Montecito.
Results were released to the Incident Management Team Safety Officer on January 18, 2018. In an effort to protect all workers, results are being shared with County staff and partner agencies. Of the five substances tested for (bacteria, TPH, asbestos, PCBs, and CAM 17), two of them were detected in concentrations that may pose a potential health risk in exposed workers involved in recovery and clean-up. (Full test results are available at http://bit.ly/2BiCh4O)
Exposed workers were notified that they should be alert to potential health conditions including rashes, wound infections and gastrointestinal illness. Vaccinations for tetanus is required and vaccination for Hepatitis A is optional for exposed workers. In addition, guidance has been given about safety and protection measures to be taken by exposed workers. The safety precautions include wearing protective clothing, washing hands thoroughly, eating in designated areas and cleaning work clothing on a daily basis.
The Public Health Department will continue to monitor activities related to recovery to support the health of our community.
MUD CLEANUP SAFETY AND PROTECTION
To protect residents from exposure to raw sewage and other chemicals that may be present in the mud, the Public Health Department offers the following guidance:
1. Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, rubber boots and nitrile gloves. If there is potential for exposure to wet mud and boots do not offer enough protection, a water-repellent coverall should be worn. If there is potential for eye exposure, then goggles should be worn.
2. Remove excess mud from footgear before entering a vehicle or a building.
3. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after contact with mud.
4. Avoid touching face, mouth, eyes, nose, genitalia, or open sores and cuts while working.
5. Wash hands before you eat, drink, or smoke and before and after using the bathroom.
6. Eat in designated areas away from mud-handling activities.
7. Do not smoke or chew tobacco or gum while working with mud.
8. Keep wounds covered with clean, dry bandages.
9. Thoroughly but gently flush eyes with water if mud comes in contact with eyes.
10. Change into clean work clothing on a daily basis. Keep footgear for use at worksite only.
11. Do not wear work clothes home or outside the work environment.
12. Use gloves to prevent skin abrasions.
13. Hand-washing stations with clean water and mild soap should be readily available. In the case of workers in the field, portable sanitation equipment, including clean water and soap, should be provided.
14. Where the mud has dried out and is now creating dust, workers who may be exposed to dust should be given, at a minimum, N95 particulate filtering face piece respirators.