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Health Department: Protect Yourself From Smoke At Anguilla Landfill Fire

FREDERIKSTED — The ongoing after effects resulting from the weekend fire at the Angullla Landfill have prompted health concerns for many St. Croix residents.

In response to those worries, the Virgin Islands Department of Health is issuing the following health recommendations.

Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion has expressed her concern for the health of the St. Croix public during the recent Anguilla Landfill fire and advises residents to proactively take precautions to ensure their respiratory health is not impacted.

Anyone with existing respiratory ailments which could potentially be impacted by inhaling smoke are advised to remain indoors; sheltering in place or to relocate to another geographical area that is not impacted by the smoke still being emitted at the incident site.

“All residents living downwind from the landfill, particularly those with asthma or other chronic respiratory concerns should stay indoors, wear a mask or move out of the area until the smoke is completely gone,” Dr. Marc Jerome, the Department of Health’s Medical Director, said. “Additionally, if you experience difficulty breathing call for help, go to your doctor, visit the Emergency Room or the closest Urgent Care office.”

Persons at greatest potential risk for complications from inhaled smoke include: the elderly, individuals with cardiac concerns, and pregnant women.

These people should remain extra vigilant in their efforts to avoid smoke exposure. Residents are also reminded that wearing paper masks will not provide protection from inhaling smoke particulates.

To achieve an appropriate degree of mask protection, the device must be at least a special N95 or P100 respirator mask.

Upon learning of the fire early Sunday morning, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) immediately activated a Unified Incident Command Center in response to the blaze. Since that time the situation has been closely monitored by a number of Virgin Islands government agencies and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been contacted and asked for additional assistance.

The agencies in the Virgin Islands currently assessing the ongoing situation have determined that there is no immediate danger to St. Croix residents.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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