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Cleanup may pose lung health problems

As people clean up from Hurricane Ian, experts warn that storm surge aftermath may present health problems. Dr. Sunil Kumar, a Broward County pulmonologist with the American Lung Association, cautions that people need to protect themselves during cleanup.

"Chemicals, oil, gas, and other dangerous substances found in flood waters can pose health risks to the entire area residents. Standing water and dampness is a breeding ground for bacteria, viruses and mold. These can become airborne and inhaled, putting people at risk for lung disease," says Dr. Kumar.

Prevention is essential, he adds. Start cleaning up as soon as possible, and wear protective clothing like gloves, rubber boots and well-fitted N95 masks. Turn off electricity and gas before you enter the building to clean up. And, he says, don’t automatically reach for the bleach bottle.

"If you see any mold, please use soap and water for cleaning. Our tendency is to go run and get bleach to clean these areas. But if it’s inside a room and you use bleach, that could make it difficult to breathe. So soap and water is more than enough to do it," says Dr. Kumar.

For more information, go to lung.org.

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