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September 07, 2005

EPA & CDC Say: Avoid Contact With New Orleans Flood Water

Flooding in New Orleans' 9th Ward
UPDATE 12 Sep 2005: The NYT reports on the "anti-water" fouling the city.

UPDATE 08 Sep 2005: Details on how much of the city's homes and infrastructure may be recoverable after weeks of soaking. Plus, more details on the flood water testing described below, and illnesses now popping up.

Following analysis of flood waters across New Orleans neighborhoods (not industrial areas), the EPA issued a press release stating it's found high quantities of E. coli bacteria and lead (from old paint, no doubt), but so far no high levels of industrial pollutants. That confirms earlier comments about the water being "a murky stew of germs."
Given these results, emergency response personnel and the public should avoid direct contact with standing water when possible. In the event contact occurs, EPA and CDC strongly advise the use of soap and water to clean exposed areas if available. Flood water should obviously not be swallowed and all mouth contact should be avoided. People should immediately report any symptoms to health professionals. The most likely symptoms are stomach-ache, fever, vomiting and diarrhea.
Preliminary water testing data will be confirmed through additional EPA testing and data analyses to ensure that all data is of the highest quality. EPA is implementing a rigorous scientific process to ensure that the flood waters of New Orleans are thoroughly sampled for multiple types of key contaminants as appropriate. EPA is actively coordinating all sampling activities and data analyses with federal, state, and local agencies.
Find more Katrina-related info from the EPA here.


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