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Local landscapers asked to practice safe cleaning methods - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Local landscapers asked to practice safe cleaning methods

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The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and the Air Pollution Control District are strongly recommending that the use of leaf blowers not be used until further notice due to potential health risks.  The departments ask that ash-clean up at residential and commercial properties not occur until another advisory is given.  

If any landscaping or gardening needs to be done, it is essential that all personnel wear properly fitting N-95 masks, which can be obtained free of charge from the Public Health Department at 805-681-5100.  

The County Public Health Department and Air Pollution Control District strongly advises against cleaning up ash while ash is still falling.  If ash clean-up is absolutely necessary, the following is recommended:
- Avoid skin contact with ash.  Ash from burned homes and other items will likely contain metals, chemicals, and potentially asbestos.  If you do get ash on your skin, wash it off immediately, but it should be noted that wet ash can cause chemical burns. 
- Inhaled ash may be irritating to the nose, throat and lungs.  

In order to avoid possible health problems, the following steps are recommended:
- If cleaning up ask, use protective wear, like a tight fitting N95 face mask, gloves, long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Avoid getting ash into the air as much as possible and avoid sweeping it up dry.  Use water and wet cloth or mop to clean items and surfaces.

To avoid using leaf blowers you can:
- Sweep gently with a broom followed and then hose gently with water.  Ash can be bagged and put into trash cans.
- Use a shop vacuum equipped with a high- efficiency particulate filter (HEPA) and a disposable filter bag to collect the ash.

Consult a doctor if you have symptoms that may be related to exposure to smoke or soot.  Symptoms include repeated coughing, shortness of breath, of difficultly breathing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, palpitations, headaches and nausea or unusual fatigue or lightheadedness. 

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