Some residents and employees in Jersey Shore towns hard hit by Superstorm Sandy are being screened for respiratory illnesses.
“What I’m going to ask you to do is take a deepest breath you can and blast it out.”
That was the direction Deborah Heart and Lung Center personnel gave again and again as they conducted free breathing tests at a high school in Toms River Friday.
Plumbing inspector Bill Meyer decided to get tested because he’s been going into Sandy-damaged homes that owners are trying to repair.
“They take the Sheetrock down and try to put new plumbing in. Meanwhile, the crawlspace is still loaded with water, mold, and my lungs started feeling bad,” he said. “Now I’m going to wind up in Deborah.”
Meyer, and about 50 of the more than 300 people tested during nine screening events Deborah has held, have been referred for follow-up care.
Ortley Beach resident Kathy Ragazzo is another.
Ragazzo and her husband decided to get tested because they’ve had persistent coughs since their home was extensively damaged by Sandy.
“Our house was so moldy. We had like 5 feet of water. By the time we got into Ortley Beach, it had already gone up and underneath, and we were doing the (cleanup) ourselves,” she said. “I wore a mask, but obviously it wasn’t a good enough one. Now I have to do a follow up because of a mild restriction.”
While they are continuing to collect medical data, officials say there is no confirmed link yet between respiratory problems and Sandy cleanup.