Health officials warn:sewage and chemicals swept up in mud and debris

Health advisory issued

Health officials warn sewage and...

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department issued a health advisory Wednesday afternoon.  Turns out all the mud and debris isn't just a long-drawn out process to clean-up, there's a danger lurking from a health standpoint.

Officials in the field say they've seen a wall of mud and debris at least five feet tall.

"It has an odor to it,  and I think a lot of that is coming from the ash that has a sulphur type smell and it has a texture to it that's quite unique," said JJ Karl, District Hazmat Manager.

Not only did all this mud cause mass devastation, now we have to worry about a potential health hazard.

"Homes that had hazardous materials or had sewage lines were impacted and rolled into that mud," said Dr. Charity Dean, Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.

Dr. Charity Dean says "unprecedented" health hazards have emerged after last week's deadly mudslides.

"Sanitation and water is the very backbone of public health," said Dr. Dean.

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is urging folks returning to impacted areas to take certain steps to protect their health - they could be as simple as wearing the proper footwear.

"Feet that are cold and wet for many hours can develop this exposure foot condition, it was called 'Trench Foot' in WWI where the skin can get boggy it can break down and get blisters," said Dr. Dean.

Be aware of exposed scrapes or scratches, keep an eye out for rashes and if you haven't been vaccinated for Tetanus in the past 10 years, its time to get a new shot.

"Its really just use common sense, be aware of any injuries you have on your own body and be sure to take care of your health during this difficult time," said Dr. Dean.

The District Hazmat Manager says they are conducting soil sample testing, sending it off for hazmat analysis and that will impact the final resting place of all this mud, muck and debris.

Of course if you have any health concerns or questions its important to seek medical care and get treatment.


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