Ford calls on EPA to check air, water quality

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“After a major storm event, it’s very natural for people to be concerned, and we think it’s important to be vigilant and to explore any realistic concerns,” said City Manager Jack Schnirman, adding that he supported Ford’s call to enlist the EPA. “I have seen no indication that there has been cause for concern. Like many residents, I take this seriously. When I go for a run in the West End, I see construction debris and I’m concerned. But we’re now ahead of schedule to alleviate some of those concerns.”

Additionally, Schnirman and other city officials have said that the EPA, as well as the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, have been in Long Beach, and that the agencies gave no indication that there were any outdoor air quality hazards.

According to Jim LaCarrubba, the city’s commissioner of public works, OSHA requested that the city ensure that its employees wear protective masks and gear as a precaution if they are working outside for more than eight hours. “We think that it’s always better to be on the safe side,” LaCarrubba said last week, “and we’re happy to see the federal government take an active role looking at our air quality, and we appreciate the assistance.”

One city official, who declined to be identified, said that air quality was more of a concern among those who are working indoors, removing debris. The official also said that medical personnel at the government-sponsored Disaster Medical Assistance Team facility established in the aftermath of the storm had treated only a handful of residents for breathing problems.

“It was a mix of people who did not have asthma medicine and people who were overexerting themselves in dusty areas,” the official said. “Indoor air quality might be bad, with dust and mold, but outdoors [is] OK.”

Elias Rodriguez, a spokesman for the EPA, referred the Herald to the DEC and the New York City Department of Health. According to the DEC’s website on Monday, the air quality on Long Island was moderate.

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