Habitat for Humanity volunteers

The Aftermath: Hurricane Remediation – Know What You’re Dealing With!

With the recent catastrophic hurricanes, Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria, I thought it would be helpful to discuss the multitude of known and unknown hazards threatening the community during a rebuild. Hazard exposure is common during times of emergency. For many, seeking immediate safety inadvertently causes contact with contaminates not typically experienced. This is truer as hurricane waters carry toxins ranging from pesticides, chemicals, sewage, and bacteria that remain longer than after the waters subside.

Flood water contamination is commonly reported on by the media and the public is warned to limit exposure to areas of damage without donning protection and properly washing if contact is made. Such known hazards are avoided with care, controls and attention. If inadvertent exposure does occur, symptoms, typically curable, mimic those associated with the flu.

New contaminates pose a threat as mitigation and rebuild efforts begin. Mold and fungi growth begins 4 to 7 days post flooding and may be present on cellulose building materials such as drywall, lumber and insulation, while the remediation of older structures introduces the potential for both lead and asbestos exposure. The contaminates these buildings contain can cause irreversible health effects such as brain damage, cancers and death.

As the hazards associated with the latter toxins do not receive as much press and exposure during post hurricane efforts, it is every more important for remediation workers (employed or not) to obtain training and certification prior to commencing. Such training, typically ranges from a couple of hours (awareness) to a couple of days (abatement/testing) and can make all the difference in avoiding such associated long-term health effects.

CHC Training offers awareness, abatement, and testing courses. Several are offered in online formats while others are best taught in classroom settings. Visit our course list to select the best class for you!

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