St. Thomas, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – Today the Virgin Islands Fire and Emergency Medical Services issued an urgent community alert informing residents and businesses near the Bovoni Landfill about an ongoing fire incident that may potentially release hazardous smoke and airborne particles into the surrounding areas. 

The VI Department of Health is further informing the surrounding community and the general public on St. Thomas that the burning of the Bovoni Landfill will produce toxic fumes from the smoke and can affect a wide area of the territory outside of the neighboring Landfill area. Fumes from the landfill comprise a mixture of gases. These gases are formed from the decomposition of rotting organic material that produces chemical reactions from the ongoing fire.  

The chemicals emitted in the atmosphere and disseminated by the winds include ammonia, methane, and hydrogen sulphide among others. Exposure by inhalation can lead to a variety of health consequences that are acute and chronic in nature. Acute symptoms include headaches, burning of the eyes, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, loss of consciousness, insomnia, and exacerbation of underlying heart or lung conditions such as congestive heart failure, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder) or asthma. 

 If you have any of these symptoms after smoke exposure, please contact your primary care provider for medical attention. You should only seek Emergency Room attendance if you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency.