Rescue crews searching for survivors of the deadly Surfside Condominium collapse in Miami were faced with many of the same health risks as 9/11 first responders. Propane and gas leaks from pipelines within the building infrastructure, burning rubble, and various forms of building material debris has been carried, and in some cases fueled, by Florida’s ocean breezes and humidity, much to the detriment of crew members, nearby communities, and their residents.
After 9/11, more than 1,000 firefighters developed cancer. Nearly 50 of them perished. Another 10,600 firefighters have been diagnosed with respiratory illnesses. These brave men and women inhaled toxic and polluted air when on site and working amid the rubble at Ground Zero. In addition to hazardous fumes, rescue workers and emergency responders working at collapsed structures are often at risk of inhaling other materials such as ammonia.
The two deadly tragedies are eerily similar.
In disaster situations, air quality is often immediately impacted. Microscopic dust particles released into the air as well as airborne smoke resulting from burning fires and chemical compounds can be ingested, or even absorbed through human skin—wreaking insurmountable havoc on the human body. The elderly, those with underlying medical conditions and those exposed the longest often have the most difficulty breathing and inhaling these particles can damage the lungs and airways or lead to lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or asthma according to the Library of Construction Occupational Safety and Health.
The Surfside Condominium tragedy rocked OCTO®’s home city of Miami at the same time as out-of-control wildfires are burning across western America and Canada. The common thread is the impact these events are having on the quality of air that humans breathe. Cameras atop Boston’s highest skyscrapers are capturing unexpected hazy skies, an orange-colored moon, and a continuous, faint smell of smoke hanging in the air. The added concern levied against humankind is a regeneration of the COVID-19 virus Delta variant that also has populations on high alert.
After a year of pandemic lockdowns and almost literal shut down, few Americans seem poised to re-adopt face mask wear. However, given ongoing threats to air quality and the potential to further spread and become infected by a deadly virus, one simple step can provide a valuable and easy to use layer of protection: mask up!
The OCTO® Respirator Mask (ORM) was designed with human life in mind. The creators wanted to develop a comfortable, reusable, all-day wear elastomeric respirator mask with advanced filtration capabilities. Respirators, as opposed to cloth face coverings and masks, are designed to protect the person wearing them by forcing inhaled air through a filter thus reducing or eliminating the negative impact of polluted air caused by environmental pollutants, allergens, gases, organic vapors, mold, dust, and viruses.
As air quality concerns continue to mount, consider ways you can easily protect yourselves and those you love. Humans are more aware of potential dangers and protective gear such as a properly fitted respirator mask will keep loved ones’ respiratory systems safe.