Odor still lingers in Lackawanna, air quality deemed safe

LACKAWANNA, N.Y. (WIVB) — A skeleton structure is what’s left of the Bethlehem Steel plant, surrounded by burnt rubble and charred belongings.

The smell of the fire still lingers in the neighborhoods and into people’s homes.

“I think people are going to be concerned because they’re going to smell the odor from the smoke and that’s unusual,” said Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Health Commissioner.

Dr. Burstein says just because there’s an odor, doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a health concern.

“We’ve already hit the peak of concern and really the concern was inhalation during that acute episode where the plumes of smoke were bellowing in the affected neighborhoods,” said Dr. Burstein.

Multiple health officials, including the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Department of Health (DOH) told News 4 the air quality is safe.

Hundreds of residents are still faced with a clean-up process, removing odors and soot from their homes.

“You don’t want to touch it with your skin. Wash the affected areas with soap and water. If you have carpets or upholstery that was covered in soot that will have to be cleaned and vacuumed,” said Dr. Burstein.

Dr. Burstein recommends leaving windows and doors open to air out the smell. She says air purifiers and air filters will also work.

Austin Air manufactures purifiers in Buffalo.

“The air purifiers is made of hepa paper and has a lot of carbon in it so the hepa paper is going to remove any particulates that have been released through the fire,” said Mike Doman, employee of Austin Air.

Austin Air is offering discounts and donations to residents affected by the fire in Lackawanna.

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