5/28/20 This information was developed before the COVID-19 health emergency. Please supplement this
information with the latest advice from state, local, Tribal and federal agencies, including the EPA website
https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus and CDC webpage https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.
Protect Yourself from Ash
Protect yourself from harmful ash when you clean up after a wildfire. Cleanup work can expose you to
ash and other products of the fire that may irritate your eyes, nose, or skin and cause coughing and other
health effects. Ash inhaled deeply into lungs may cause asthma attacks and make it difficult to breathe.
Ash is made up of larger and tiny particles (dust, dirt, and soot). Ash deposited on surfaces both indoors
and outdoors can be inhaled if it becomes airborne when you clean up. Ash from burned structures is
generally more hazardous than forest ash.
Avoid Ash Exposure
Avoid direct contact with ash. If you get ash
on your skin, in your eyes, or in your mouth,
wash it off as soon as you can.
People with heart or lung disease, including
asthma, older adults, children, and pregnant
women should use special caution around
Children and pets: Children should not be
nearby while you clean up ash. Do not allow
children to play in ash. Clean ash off all
children's toys before use. Clean ash off pets
and other animals. Keep pets away from
contaminated sites.
Recommended Actions
Clothing: Wear gloves, long-sleeved shirts,
long pants, shoes and socks to avoid skin
contact. Goggles are also a good idea
Contact with wet ash can cause chemical
burns or skin irritation. Change your shoes
and clothing before you leave the cleanup
site to avoid tracking ash offsite, into your
car, or other places.
Use an N95 respirator and
avoid skin contact with ash.
Protecting your lungs: Wear a tight-fitting
respirator that filters ash particles from the
air you breathe to help protect your lungs.
Select a respirator that has been tested and
approved by NIOSH and has the words
"NIOSH" and either "N95" or "P100" printed
on it. These have two straps and are
available online, and at many hardware
stores and pharmacies. Buy respirators in a
size that can be tightened over your mouth
and nose with a snug seal to your face.
Surgical masks and one-strap dust masks will
not protect your lungs. They are not
designed to seal tightly to the face. If you
have heart or lung disease talk to your
doctor before using a respirator or working
around ash.

Cleanup: Avoid stirring up or sifting through
ash as much as you can. Avoid actions that
kick ash particles up into the air, such as dry
sweeping. Before sweeping indoor and
outdoor hard surfaces, mist them with water
to keep dust down. Follow with wet
mopping. Use a damp cloth or wet mop on
lightly dusted areas. When you wet down
ash, use as little water as you can.
Vacuum: Use a high-efficiency particulate air
(HEPA)-type vacuum to clean dusty surfaces.
Don't use a typical household vacuum or a
shop vacuum. They will send the collected
dust or ash out into the air. Don't use leaf
blowers or do anything else that will put ash
into the air.
Food and Water: Wash any home-grown
fruits or vegetables from trees or gardens
where ash has fallen. Avoid bringing food or
eating at the affected site, unless you keep
the food in a sealed container.
Wash your hands weli before eating. Check
with your drinking water provider to be sure
your water is safe to drink.
Disposal: Collected ash may be disposed of
in the regular trash. Ash should be stored in
plastic bags or other containers to prevent it
from being stirred up. If you suspect
hazardous waste, including asbestos, is
present, contact your local hazardous waste
authorities regarding appropriate disposal.
Avoid washing ash into storm drains.
 I PublicHealth

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency  EPA- 452/F-18-004