Don’t Let Cleaning Your Home Make You Sick

We all face the daunting task of rehabilitating our homes after the devastation brought by Sandy. It is physically and emotionally draining to discard many possessions and to gut the water-logged components of your house. But these tasks present dangers in the form of exposure to potentially serious illness and injuries. Don’t compound the impact of the storm by failing to take proper and adequate precautions to protect yourself and your loved ones during this process.

Depending on the age of your home, there is a very real risk that it was built with materials that we now recognize as hazardous. Examples of this are lead in plumbing pipes and window sashes, and asbestos in insulation and flooring. Even if these substances are not present in your home, the water that permeated much of the soft materials (carpeting, wall board, insulation, furniture) can set the stage for the propagation of mold.

PERSONAL PROTECTION EQUIPMENT (PPE) IS AVAILABLE FREE OF CHARGE FROM THE Service Providers IN THE FOUR SECTORS OF BREEZY POINT.

Given these potential risks, at a minimum, the following PPE should be worn at all times when handling potentially hazardous materials:

  • Tyvek coveralls (with foot covering and hood)
  • Gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Respirator
  • Head covering

There is a wide array of PPE, especially gloves and respirators, that vary depending on the risk that you will be exposed to. For example, respirators should be half face, equipped with dual HEPA filtered cartridges (color coded purple) if handling substances such as asbestos. These are also effective against mold spores. But, any face mask must be properly fitted to ensure that all inhaled air passes through it and not around it. Face shape and facial hair might imede a proper fit. See the Repiratory Protection Information Sheet provided by the NYC Department of Health on our Resources page.  Vinyl or neoprene gloves will protect against many substances but offer no protection from cuts or punctures.

After working in hazardous environments, all PPE should be disposed of in sealed bags and should be brought to the Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off. Reusable personal clothing should be properly cleaned with adequately hot water and appropriate cleanser. Use anti-microbial hand sanitizer when you remove your gloves. Hand sanitizer is available free of charge.

Aside from exposure to hazardous substances, don’t forget common sense during any dismantling work you do. Broken glass, nails, etc. are ubiquitous in residential buildings and can cause a multitude of injuries.  Use caution with tools such as knives, saws, hammers and axes.

IF YOU ARE INJURED, SEEK HELP IMMEDIATELY. Improperly treated wounds can result in infections and, in the case of wounds inflicted by metals, tetanus. If you have not had an anti-tetanus inoculation or booster in the past ten years, GET ONE or do not risk exposure.

Removal of hazardous materials is best handled by properly trained and equipped individuals. Services for gutting homes are available from the Service Providers here to help you, free of charge.

You have suffered enough. Do not compound your hardship with unnecessary and preventable illnesses or injuries.

THIS ARTICLE IS ONLY MEANT TO INFORM YOU OF THE POTENTIAL RISKS AND EDUCATE YOU AS TO THE AVAILABILITY OF PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT AND SERVICES. IT IS NOT ALL INCLUSIVE. IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS, CALL PBFD FOR FURTHER INFORMATION.