City officials warn of possible poor air quality for controlled demolition

Updated: Oct. 18, 2019 at 6:15 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - City officials warn of possible poor air quality following Saturday's controlled demolition.

They say utilities will be turned off, and that people should anticipate the sound of explosives and possible poor air quality.

Dr. Kyle Happel with LSU Health Pulmonary/Critical Care said the biggest concern is for those with pre-existing lung disease or asthma.

"Folks who are close to that area who have diseases like asthma is to make sure they have their rescue inhalers. If at all possible, avoid exposure. If we have some idea of when that's going to happen, try to be indoors or to avoid the area entirely," Happel said.

City leaders recommend staying inside and sealing doors and windows so dust does not get in.

"This is going to be a much more controlled demolition, but certainly, anyone who has any type of chronic lung disease we would not advise them to go watch this," Happel said.

While there weren't many people stopping by hardware stores to get masks, some say they are concerned about the air quality.

"If I'm out here, I will put on a mask if it's too cloudy and I feel like I'm breathing in a lot of stuff from the demo-ing," John Fortino said.

Fortino is a construction worker who says he's used to debris from remodeling homes.

“If we’re demo-ing and the dust gets bad, I usually put on a respirator. If it’s not, I don’t really wear one all the time,” Fortino said.

Even after the dust settles, Fortino says even though you don't see it in the air, it doesn't necessarily mean it's not there.

"Sometimes you don't realize how bad it is cause it's not as cloudy, and you feel it the next morning," Fortino said.

However, Happel says it shouldn't stay in the air too long.

"In the context of what we're seeing, which is mostly a concrete building implosion, usually the concrete dust is visible. It doesn't stay in suspension as much time as fumes can," Happel said.

Doctors say some symptoms of irritation include coughing, wheezing and eye irritation.

Again, city officials urge people to stay away from the evacuated area, and stay inside.

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