American Lung Association Provides Health Tips to Alaska Residents Living in Areas Affected by Ash Fall from the Mount Redoubt Volcano
Washington, D.C. — Residents in the path of Mount Redoubt’s recent surge of volcanic activity should take steps to protect themselves and their families from the ash, gases and debris. The American Lung Association warns that people most at risk include children and teens, seniors, people with lung diseases, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular diseases and diabetics. Healthy adults exercising or working outdoors also face increased risk. Furthermore, the Association warns that the risks do not end when the eruptions cease.
“It’s important to protect yourself and your family from exposure to ash from Mount Redoubt,” said Norman H. Edelman, American Lung Association Chief Medical Officer. “Breathing in volcanic ash can be harmful to anyone. Even healthy adults may experience coughing, chest tightness, wheezing and other health problems.”
The American Lung Association recommends all residents in affected areas stay indoors. Doors and windows should be kept closed and driving should be limited due to poor visibility conditions that can result from the abundance of ash.
Protect yourself with a mask if you must be outdoors when ash is present and especially when cleaning up after the eruptions end. Use an N95 or N100 mask, which is available at most hardware stores. Adjust the straps and the mask so that it fits snuggly against your face with no air leaks around the edges.
“Masks are not sized to fit children, so children must stay indoors” added Edelman. “If N95 masks are not available, a fabric mask may help to filter out the larger particles. Dampen the fabric to provide greater filtration.”
The American Lung Association reminds people with lung disease to prepare for their medical needs and to assume that their lung condition may deteriorate during and after the eruption and ash fall.
“It is important to contact your health care provider should any breathing problems develop or worsen,” said Dr. Edelman. “Do not allow a respiratory condition to linger, especially if there is a high concentration of ash or dust in the air.”
People with lung disease are advised to continue to take their medications as prescribed. Medications for an acute episode should be readily available and kept in a convenient place. Those that do not have any medications, but feel they may need them, should also consult their health care provider. It is also advised that those with lung diseases obtain clear instructions from their health care provider regarding actions to take should their breathing suddenly worsen.
The American Lung Association strongly cautions those with breathing problems to not exert themselves while outdoors. Children should also not be allowed to play actively outdoors when ash is in the air. Those who smoke should be aware of the additional stress these conditions may have on their lungs. Additional precautions should be made by nonsmokers to avoid exposure to secondhand smoke during this time.
Residents are reminded that the cleanup process can stir up ash and debris that can exacerbate lung health issues. Lightly wetting ash deposits during clean up can reduce the volume of ash that becomes airborne again. Take care not to wet the ash too heavily. Waterlogged ash will form into hard mass making clean up more difficult.
During this period of frequent volcanic activity, it is critical for residents to continue to monitor the situation. Check online at the Alaska Volcano Observatory website for updates on volcanic activity at http://www.avo.alaska.edu/activity/Redoubt.php or follow the alerts on Twitter at http://twitter.com/alaska_avo.
Residents should also be aware of wind direction to find out if ash will be blown into their communities by following weather reports or visiting www.airnow.gov.
About the American Lung Association: Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association, a Charity Navigator Four Star Charity and holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.lungusa.org.
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