Cleanup Efforts at Bethlehem Steel Fire Site; ECDOH Recommends Basic Precautions

Modified: November 15, 2016 5:56pm

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 From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein

Date November 15, 2016                                

MEDIA CONTACT: Mary St. Mary /

Office: 716-858-4941 


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Cleanup Efforts at Bethlehem Steel Fire Site

ECDOH Recommends Basic Precautions

ERIE COUNTY, NY— The Erie County Department of Health (“ECDOH”) reminds residents residing in the fire-affected area to follow the direction of the Lackawanna Fire Department and remain sheltered in place until the recommendation is lifted. The “Shelter in Place” status will continue until all fires are out and structural safety issues are addressed. 

Due to occasional flare ups as hotspots are uncovered in the debris, the Lackawanna Fire Department has requested the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”) continue to monitor air quality. DEC has deployed particulate air quality sensors near the fire scene for the remainder of this week. Fire fighters are using water to keep smoke to a minimum. ECDOH continues to encourage residents in this area to observe caution, particularly those individuals with health conditions that may be adversely affected by even small amounts of smoke.  Residents are advised to recirculate indoor air and minimize outdoor activity. 

People with respiratory conditions may experience difficulty breathing. People with breathing problems like asthma, those with heart disease, children, and the elderly may be particularly sensitive to particulate matter possibly found in the smoke. Fine particulate matter can worsen asthma and heart conditions. Common symptoms are irritation to the eyes, nose, airways, and lungs. Residents should contact their healthcare providers at the first sign of respiratory distress.

Emergency Services have not seen an increase in calls concerning respiratory issues since the fire began. In addition, there has not been any increase in patient visits to hospital Emergency Departments complaining of respiratory issues. ECDOH will continue to monitor the situation as appropriate.

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For More Information:

New York State Department of Health—Exposure to Smoke from Fires

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—How Smoke from Fires Can Affect Your Health

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