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Communicating and incident assessments

Exposure routes

When a toxicant is prominent in an environment after a natural disaster, it is important to determine the route of exposure to worker safety for the disaster management workers. The three components are source of exposure, pathway of the chemical, and receptor. Questions to ask when dealing with chemical source is the material itself, how it’s used, how much is used, how often the chemical is used, temperature, vapor pressure, physical processes. The physical state of the chemical is important to identify. If working indoors, room ventilation, and volume of room needs to be noted to help mitigate health defects from the chemical. Lastly, to ensure worker safety, routes of entry for the chemical should be determined as well as relevant personal protective equipment needs to be worn.[12]

Respirators

According to the CDC, “If you need to collect belongings or do basic clean up in your previously flooded home, you do not usually need to use a respirator (a mask worn to prevent breathing in harmful substances).” A respirator should be worn when performing an operation in an enclosed environment such as a house that creates ample amounts of dust. These activities could include sweeping dust, using power saws and equipment, or cleaning up mold. If you encounter dust, the CDC says to “limit your contact with the dust as much as possible. Use wet mops or vacuums with HEPA filters instead of dry sweeping and lastly wear a respirator that protects against dust in the air. A respirator that is approved by the CDC/NIOSH is the N95 respirator and can be a good personal protective equipment to protect from dust and mold in the air from the associated natural disaster.[13]