Residents concerned over debris-related health issues
BATON ROUGE - Residents say they are getting frustrated at possible health risks created by flood debris.
"You can taste it, you can smell it," auto body shop owner Timothy Matthews said.
Matthews' shop is located near the intersection of Sherwood Forrest Blvd. and Choctaw Drive, right across the street from a temporary debris site, seeing a steady stream of trucks hauling trash throughout the day.
The debris site have grown significantly over the days, bringing in more dust, dirt and mold along with it. Matthews says ventilation only does so much, and it is concerning for his employees who work outside.
"Employees are coming to work with masks on," Matthews explained. "They don't know if it's dangerous. We can see the big pile of debris, and they don't know what it is."
Many of the auto body employees were advised to wear masks for health reasons, including allergy issues.
"In our line of work it's hard to work in masks," Matthews said. "We will, but it's hard to breathe."
Matthews says he understands the debris has to go somewhere, and only wants to know if it is safe.
The department of environmental quality has air monitors at the staging area, and some of those monitors measure particulate matter, or liquid and solid particles in the air. However, at this time, those monitors are measuring good air quality.
"It never puts me at ease when they say they're monitoring something," Matthews said.
The Department of Environmental Quality says the site will stay in operation as long as it's needed. They are assessing any need for additional monitoring, and efforts to control dust are in place. This includes sweepers and sprinklers. For Matthews, that's not enough.
"You can't get rid of it," he says.