This is from a Penn. resident who was buried in ash a few years ago.
What can we do to protect ourselves?
It is understandable that affected residents and emergency responders may have questions as to how to best protect themselves from exposure to the TVA fly ash. It is widely known that coal combustion wastes, commonly known as fly ash, contain toxic metals like arsenic, mercury, lead, thallium, hexavalent chromium and more.
In January 2005 a small western Pennsylvania community in Forward Township experienced a fly ash landslide. As no one from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) provided any safety guidelines, the residents sought guidance from public health officials from the University of Pittsburgh and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).
The residents of Forward Township were told to do the following to provide some level of protection for themselves, their families and their pets. Please know these suggestions are not a cure for the problems you face, but they are some suggested safeguards to provide some common sense practices you can use in your homes to help reduce some of your exposures to the fly ash.
1. Leave all shoes, boots and exposed clothing outside. Try not to take fly ash inside your homes on shoes or clothing.
2. Wash pets’ feet before they enter your home.
3. Wash your face and hands often – especially before eating.
4. Avoid parking cars/trucks with fly ash on tires in garages attached to your home. Tracking fly ash into garages where people and pets can walk through it can bring the fly ash back inside your homes.
5. NEVER SWEEP FLY ASH – risks to humans are greatest when the fly ash is airborne.
6. Don’t let children play outside near fly ash. Small children are at greatest risk due the fact that their hands frequently go in their mouths. If they have any fly ash on their hands they will then “ingest” the ash if they lick their fingers or a toy exposed to the ash.
6. Keep all windows and doors closed as much as possible.
7. Use HEPA air cleaning filtration, if possible. And change the filters once a week.
8. If possible, use vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters on carpets and floors inside your home.
9. When dusting use a damp cloth – don’t dry dust.
10. Never leave food uncovered – fly ash will settle on all surfaces.