Persons are being urged not to use blowers to remove ash when cleaning, and to wear the required personal protective equipment (PPE) to safeguard their health.
This advice has come from Acting Director of the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), Anthony Headley, who also stated that some Barbadians were cleaning up the ash from the La Sourfrière volcano without using goggles or N-95 face masks. The EPD falls under the remit of the Ministry of Environment and National Beautification.
He warned that the ash was suspected to contain minerals that were abrasive and the particles were so small (less than 10 microns), they could easily be inhaled if not properly handled.
“These particles can cause lung damage when exposed for extended periods. It is extremely important that all persons working with the ash wear the required PPE, and equipment, such as blowers, should not be used.
“The ash should be sprinkled lightly with water, non-potable water is preferred, and scraped or swept up and bagged for collection. Using blowers will only disperse the particles and increase the inhalation hazards for all parties,” Mr. Headley underscored.
Minister of Environment, Adrian Forde, also added his voice to the call for individuals to be mindful when removing the ash from their properties.
He advised persons not to wash down driveways and pavements in an effort to prevent blockage to drains or wells and water wastage.
Additionally, Minister Forde urged residents to separate the ash from their regular garbage to stop the hardening of the material within the compactors of the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) trucks.
He also asked motorists to be considerate to SSA workers, as they embarked on national clean-up efforts, by reducing their speed when approaching SSA vehicles. He added that workers were operating in an environment of reduced visibility.
Minister Forde implored Barbadians to assist the SSA by cleaning the ash from the municipal or community areas where they put out their garbage, “so that it would not be stirred up when the trucks are compacting”. “We’re all in this together,” he emphasised.