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Couch burned by fire and covered in ash

Safe Cleanup of Ash

Cleaning up ash from the recent wildfires can cause serious health issues. If your home or property has ash on it from the recent wildfires, be especially careful when cleaning it up, as it may contain toxic substances.

Symptoms that may be related to exposure to ash or soot include itchy eyes, coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, palpitations, headaches and nausea, or unusual fatigue or lightheadedness.

CDPH recommends these tips for safely cleaning up ash:  

  • Wear a close-fitting respirator that is rated N-95 or P-100 to prevent ash from being inhaled. Bandanas, surgical or cloth masks do not effectively block fine particles.
  • Wear protective gloves, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks and shoes to avoid skin contact with ash.
  • NEVER use a leaf blower as it will only spread the ash and blow it back into the air.
  • The use of shop vacuums, common vacuum cleaners and other non-HEPA filter vacuums is not recommended. They blow small particles into the air where they may be inhaled. HEPA filter vacuums could be used, if available.
  • Remove shoes before entering your home or use "sticky mats" in entryways and doors to remove dust and ash from your shoes. Sticky mats are sold at hardware stores.
  • Gently sweeping indoor and outdoor hard surfaces, followed by a wet mopping is usually the best procedure. Use a damp cloth on areas with light ash dust.
  • If you do get ash on your skin, wash it off as soon as possible.
  • Do not let children play in ash and wash off toys before children play with them.
  • Keep pets out of ash areas. Either clean ash off pets with a damp cloth or give them a full bath, depending on how dirty they are.

Caution: Fire Ash in Home Gardens (PDF) | Spanish 

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