Katrina Five Years After: Hurricane Left a Legacy of Health Concerns

foxnews.com - A team of researchers led by Dr. George Cobb from Texas Tech University sampled 128 sites throughout New Orleans and combined their findings with data gathered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 'Our evaluation of contaminants in New Orleans was critical in determining whether storm surges and resultant flooding altered chemical concentrations or distribution,' concluded Cobb. 'Our results show how long-term human health consequences in New Orleans are difficult to attribute to chemical deposition or redistribution by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, yet reveal how chemical contamination is a historical problem for old cites in the U.S. Our results and the data from coastal ecosystems reveal the value of long-term monitoring programs to establish baseline concentrations and distributions of contaminants in the environment.' The levels of lead found in the samples taken by Cobb and his team exceeded the threshold for safety in the United States. Lead exposure has been linked to brain and nervous system damage, developmental delays and hearing impairment in children. In adults, it has been linked to reproductive issues, miscarriage and birth defects, nerve damage, cognitive impairment, high blood pressure, joint pain and digestive issues.

Five years ago, Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf region, killing nearly 2,000 and displacing more than 250,000 others from Louisiana to Florida.

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A team of researchers led by Dr. George Cobb from Texas Tech University sampled 128 sites throughout New Orleans and combined their findings with data gathered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"Our evaluation of contaminants in New Orleans was critical in determining whether storm surges and resultant flooding altered chemical concentrations or distribution," concluded Cobb. "Our results show how long-term human health consequences in New Orleans are difficult to attribute to chemical deposition or redistribution by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, yet reveal how chemical contamination is a historical problem for old cites in the U.S. Our results and the data from coastal ecosystems reveal the value of long-term monitoring programs to establish baseline concentrations and distributions of contaminants in the environment."

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