Solving the Ash and Debris Problem in California

Napa County

Dr. Karen Relucio is the chief public health officer in Napa County, California. In the recent deadly fires, this was one of the most affected county in California after Sonoma County. In her line of work, she has heard some interesting stories from people who survived the fire. Some are using their bare hands to look for sentimental items that might have escaped their fire. Some even do it using T-shirts and with shorts. To her surprise, these people don’t see the risk they expose themselves to. She can at least use her office, badge, and position to bully these people to stop the search. She asked people to remember the hazardous material they would have left in their homes. She reminds them of paint, plastic, gasoline, propane, and pesticides. The common thing about these products is that following a fire, they burn down to ash which could be very toxic and dangerous to human life. This is the reason why she recently declared a state of emergency in regards to these hazardous wastes. While thousands of people are under mandatory evacuation, a good number of firefighters are fighting day and night to contain the fire. According to statistics from California officials, 41 people have been killed by the fire. At the same time, close to 5,700 structures have been burned while close to 215,000 acres of land has been burned.

Even before the smell of smoke can disappear from the air in California, cleanup experts are worried about something else rather than fire. They are worried about the ash that will be left behind as well as the huge amount of debris. This is an issue that will be faced with a host of challenges such as liability questions, timetables as well as costs. This is a major disaster for public as well as property owners. The state of California might have to learn how the State of New York handled the debris that followed the 9/11 attack. This is a suggestion that has been suggested by a retired neurologist known as Alan Lockwood. Even the basic material from the debris could cause harm to the people handling them as they may contain harmful products. A good example is the paint used to protect the wood from bacteria. On the other hand, scientists say that such kind of wood can contain compounds such as arsenic, chromium as well as copper. House electronics might contain cadmium and mercury.

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