Houston, Texas May 14, 2010 Scientists studying the environmental impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and the city of New Orleans have revealed the ecological impact and human health risks from exposure to chemical contaminants. The findings, published in a special issue of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, demonstrate how Hurricane Katrina caused significant ecological damage by altering coastal chemistry and habitat.
The research reveals how chemical concentrations across coastal areas varied, but within New Orleans elevated concentrations of lead, arsenic and other chemicals were found, particularly in the most disadvantaged areas of the city following Hurricane Katrina. The team also discovered how airborne contaminants known to pose health risks, were released through demolition projects during the city-wide cleanup operation.
"While evidence suggests that hurricanes may increase in intensity, resulting in even greater economic damage in the future, social and cultural factors are also important aspects to consider for the future impact of hurricanes," said Dr. Bill Benson of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). "It is important that higher priority is given to understanding social factors and demographic patterns pertaining to continued development along our nation's coastline."
Hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans in August 2005, remains the costliest and deadliest hurricane ever to hit the United States. When the category five hurricane hit land, the resulting surge extended six miles inland, breaching the levees of New Orleans and causing flooding to 80percent of the city to depths of six meters.
In human terms Katrina resulted in 1,800 confirmed fatalities spread over six states with at least 700 people confirmed missing and an additional one million people displaced. Katrina-related damage is estimated to exceed $84 billion, making it the most expen
|Contact: Ben Norman|