Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Public Health and Hurricanes

03.05.2007
New study underscores need for rapid environment assessments post-hurricanes

In the first study ever to evaluate urban sediment after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, scientists from the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science have published their findings in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, pointing to the need for rapid environmental assessments.

The environment in New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita showed high levels of contamination as floodwaters receded from the city, and this new study, titled "Impacts of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the Microbial Landscape of the New Orleans Area" provides new insights into public health and human exposure to both inhaled and ingested pathogens from sewage-contaminated floodwaters induced by hurricanes.

Rosenstiel School researchers from its NSF/NIEHS Center for Oceans and Human Health, along with five other universities and two other NSF/NIEHS Centers for Oceans and Human Health, analyzed water and sediment samples they collected as floodwaters receded from New Orleans during the two months after the 2005 hurricanes. The scientists collected water and sediment samples from the interior canal and shoreline of New Orleans and the offshore waters of Lake Pontchartrain, which showed higher than normal bacteria and pathogen levels. The bacteria and pathogens reduced to low levels within a few weeks after flooding had completely subsided.

“Our findings emphasize the importance of including environmental monitoring within disaster management plans,” said Dr. Helena Solo-Gabriele, professor of environmental engineering at the University of Miami and co-author of the paper. “A rapid assessment of conditions can protect emergency workers and residents from potential illnesses that could result from exposure.”

The 2005 events were characterized by an unusually high volume and long duration of human exposure. The most contaminated area tested near the Superdome contained high levels of sewage pathogens. Researchers pointed out monitoring efforts should focus on evaluating the impacts of sediments within the area since exposure to contaminated sediments, by inhaling or ingesting, could result in potential health risks. Efforts should include monitoring pathogens in addition to indicator microbes.

“We know that hurricanes bring infectious disease, chemical contamination and death in their wake,” said Don Rice, director of NSF's chemical oceanography program, which funded the research. “Now we are making a concerted effort to study and understand the connections.”

Sediment samples taken from the canal shoreline and from three homes showed elevated levels that could not be contributed solely to the effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The source of elevated bacteria levels in the canals and sediments appears to be the chronic discharge of contaminated water from the interior portions of the city.

Poor water quality, present prior to the hurricanes, was a major concern in the region, and efforts are needed in the region to improve the sanitary infrastructure.

Improvements should focus on the storm water drainage system in the region and reducing sewage contamination of groundwater seepage, researchers noted. No evidence of a long-term algal bloom was observed in New Orleans as a result of Hurricanes Katrina or Rita.

Rosenstiel School is part of the University of Miami and, since its founding in the 1940s, has grown into one of the world's premier marine and atmospheric research institutions.

Ivy F. Kupec | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rsmas.miami.edu
http://www.miami.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stiffness matters

22.02.2018 | Life Sciences

Magnetic field traces gas and dust swirling around supermassive black hole

22.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

First evidence of surprising ocean warming around Galápagos corals

22.02.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>