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 levels of bacteria and pathogens. Levels of the microbes fell within a few weeks after flooding had completely subsided.
"Our findings emphasize the importance of including environmental monitoring in disaster management plans," said Helena Solo-Gabriele, an environmental engineer at the University of Miami and co-author of the study. "A rapid assessment of conditions can protect emergency workers and residents from potential illnesses that could result from exposure."
The scientists--funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and affiliated with the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) and other institutions--report their results in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper, co-authored by 19 scientists and titled, "Impacts of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the Microbial Landscape of the New Orleans Area," provides insights into public health and human exposure to both inhaled and ingested pathogens from sewage-contaminated floodwaters induced by hurricanes.
"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."
During the hurricanes, a high volume of water flowed into cities in their paths. Residents were exposed to flood waters for a long period, say the researchers. The most contaminated area tested, near the New Orleans Superdome, contained high levels of sewage pathogens.
Scientists from RSMAS' Center for Oceans and Human Health, funded by NSF and the National Institutes of Health, along with researchers at five other universities analyzed water and sediment samples collected as the floodwaters receded from New Orleans during the 2 months after the 2005 hurricanes.
The researchers point out that monitoring efforts should focus on evaluating the impacts of sediments within an area affected by hurricane floodwaters, as exposure to contaminated sediments, by inhaling or ingesting, could result in health risks. Efforts should include monitoring pathogens in addition to indicator microbes--those that aren't themselves harmful but are known to exist alongside pathogens.
Improvements should focus, the scientists say, on reducing sewage contamination from groundwater seepage and storm water drainage in the region.
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Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
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