Powered by
Movable Type 3.2
Design by
Danny Carlton

Made with NoteTab

October 12, 2005

Toxic news

From Environmental Science & Technology...

Shortly after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Louisiana coast, flooding the city of New Orleans, journalists began reporting on a “toxic soup” of chemicals and dangerous microbes bathing the city. Based on no reported data, these stories nevertheless seemed reasonable; the city’s sewer system had flooded, and thousands of cars, houses, and chemical storage tanks lay beneath water, which in part of the city reached more than 3 meters in depth. In addition, 24 Superfund sites are in the affected area, and the U.S. EPA and the U.S. Coast Guard have tallied more than 400 oil and hazardous chemical spills.

However, research posted to ES&T’s Research ASAP website (es0518631) finds that the water that drowned New Orleans was no more toxic than typical floodwater washing down an urban street after a hard rain.

I never believed those reports—and frustrated my wife, who assumes reporters have no reason to exaggerate, by doing so. I'm just too skeptical, but then, more often than not, I'm right.

The actual report states...

Data are presented which demonstrate that during the weeks following the storm, floodwater was brackish and well-buffered with very low concentrations of volatile and semivolatile organic pollutants. Dissolved oxygen was depleted in surface floodwater, averaging 1.6 mg/L in the Lakeview district and 4.8 mg/L in the Mid-City district. Dissolved oxygen was absent (<0.02 mg/L) at the bottom of the floodwater column in the Mid-City district 9 days after the storm. Chemical oxygen demand (Mid-City average = 79.9 mg/L) and fecal coliform bacteria (Mid-City average = 1.4 × 105 MPN/100 mL) were elevated in surface floodwater but typical of stormwater runoff in the region. Lead, arsenic, and in some cases, chromium, exceeded drinking water standards but with the exception of some elevated Pb concentrations generally were typical of stormwater.

Wanna bet this'll be a low interest news item.

Posted by Danny Carlton at October 12, 2005 06:08 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)

Security verification

Type the characters you see in the image above.