Sandy Relief and Assistance Efforts by the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College

November 13, 2012

Drive to Collect & Distribute Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

Last week the Environmental, Occupational Health and Safety (EOHS) faculty at the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College united with the Metropolitan American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration(OSHA) to begin a collection drive for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for volunteers aiding in cleanup efforts. Dozens responded by donating extra equipment, including the Draeger Company who agreed to ship 57,680 N95 respirators to Hunter for use in cleanup.

The East Harlem location of the School of Public Health became the designated collection and distribution point for PPE. Professor Jack Caravanos took the lead in coordinating distribution of PPE for volunteers working throughout the city and New Jersey shore.

Hunter continues to coordinate with OSHA, NY & NJ AIHA and approximately 14 NY/NJ OSHA-recommended legal charities to collect and distribute PPE to needed areas.

Those who want to purchase PPE for use by volunteers can do so by following this link:

For about $65, a donor can completely outfit one volunteer.

Site Assessment & Safety Training for Volunteers

Dean Susan Klitzman coordinated with the leader of the Occupy Sandy movement in Brooklyn to explain how to protect cleanup volunteers from environmental exposures while embarking on cleanup efforts.

Klitzman and other Hunter faculty and alumni toured the Rockaways and many other Sandy affected sites in order to conduct brief preliminary site safety assessment of residential cleanups. These assessments included some moisture meter assessments of homes that may be contaminated with mold.

Safe Cleanup Practices

One of the most important lessons learned in the aftermath of 9/11 is the need for those engaged in cleanup efforts –whether professionals or volunteers—to take safety precautions while engaged in cleanup activities.

Homeowners, neighbors and other volunteers need to be aware that floodwaters (and the debris left behind, including damaged construction materials) may contain pathogens, hazardous waste and other perils.

All persons engaged in cleanup activities should be sure to wear coverings to prevent flesh contact with perils and to use respirators to protect lungs. While professional PPE is best advised, inexpensive alternatives can be found on the web and at most local paint, hardware or building supply companies.

Examples of proper cleanup PPE for purchase can be found following these links:

It is equally important, to prevent the spread of disease, that those engaged in cleanup remove coverings that came in contact with flooded areas before entering unaffected homes or areas. Volunteers should assume all coverings worn during cleanup are tainted and those coverings should be washed and disinfected before being worm or used again. Volunteers should also be sure to thoroughly wash and scrub any skin or hair that may have inadvertently come in contact with floodwaters or the debris remaining.

For information on safe cleanup practices in the aftermath of Sandy, see:

Advice from CDC

Advice from National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences

Advice from NYC Office of Emergency Management (hurricane)

Advice from NYC Office of Emergency Management (flooding)

Advice from FEMA

Advice from OSHA