Barbadians, especially those who suffer from respiratory ailments, are being advised to take all necessary precautions to protect their health, as the island continues to experience high levels of ashfall, from St Vincent’s La Soufrière volcano, which began a series of eruptions on Friday.
Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Kenneth George says those who suffer from asthma, lung diseases, sinuses, and other similar ailments, must take extra precaution and care during this time, to limit any adverse side effects by coming into direct contact with the volcanic ash.
“Those persons need to make sure that they are not in direct contact with the chemicals and irritants that are found in the ash plumes. Those persons are best managed indoors; we would hope that in an indoor setting, that you keep your windows and doors closed, and that you make sure that you have, particularly for asthmatics, preventative medication such that could be used for acute disease such as wheezing,” he said
Dr. George is also advising locals to cover up well with clothing and face protection when going outside, to avoid ash collecting on skin and causing irritations.
“For those who must traverse the outside, please use long-sleeved clothing. You may have to put on goggles, particularly when the ashfall is dense. Please use your masks, we are in a COVID situation so please remember this is also foremost in our thoughts, and follow the direction of public health officials,” he added.
Managing Director of Operations at TMR Sales and Services Ltd Peter Thompson also mirrored the calls of Dr. George for Barbadians to take their respiratory health seriously during this time.
He advised that all air conditioning units operating in buildings should only be in use when absolutely necessary, not only to avoid damage from the ash entering the system, but also to avoid the ash compromising the quality of the air supply.
“What this ash would present is a dangerous situation as it relates to changing the indoor air environment. There are filtration systems, but at some point in time, based on the dense nature of the ashfall we are getting at times, it is bound to be breached.
“We would then introduce into the indoor space, the potential to be having ash, which would have very erosive effects, but also its chemical constituents, [that] you would not want to introduce into your indoor space.
“From an occupancy prospective, we are recommending that if there is no need to be in an office to turn on an air conditioning [unit], don’t do it. We don’t need to compromise the indoor air quality,” Thompson said. (SB)