NJ Health Officials Worried About Toxins From Sandy [POLL/AUDIO]
Toxic fumes in the air, mud on the ground, homes gutted and streets lined with garbage. Health officials are worried that both residents and volunteers are getting sick cleaning up from Superstorm Sandy.
A storm victim may have been exposed to many areas of contamination, depending on when and how they did the clean up and whether or not they lived in the home while it was being gutted.
“There are mold issues of course, especially in homes that had three feet of water or more, there are chemical issues we are concerned about in companies that used cleaning agents and then there is other toxins that may have been released into the home, either sewerage leaks or ground contamination that may have infiltrated your living space,” said Dr. Paul Lioy, a Professor of Environmental and Occupational Medicine Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
Dr. Michael Gochfeld, an environmental toxicologist, also at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, says there are real concerns for Sandy victims as we enter the reconstruction and re-entry phase.
“Pediatricians are seeing more children with respiratory illnesses or children who already have an underlying condition like asthma were exposed to mold and therefore they have seen an increase in visits over the last six weeks.”
Will this plague New Jersey for years to come? Dr. Gochfeld says its too early to tell.
“It has by no means reached epidemic levels, but then again, this study is by no means complete.”
Dr. Lioy says moving forward, residents and volunteers should take precautions cleaning up.
“They need to wear gloves. make sure to clean all your surfaces with disinfectants registered with the Environmental Protection Agency and get a N95 face mask which you can easily buy at most hardware stores.”