Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Orleans 'Toxic Soup' A Less Serious Problem Than Initially Believed

Date:
September 17, 2006
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Despite the tragic human and economic toll from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita along the Gulf Coast in 2005, the much-discussed "toxic-soup" environmental pollution was no where close to being as bad as people thought.

Despite the tragic human and economic toll from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita along the Gulf Coast in 2005, the much-discussed "toxic-soup" environmental pollution was nowhere close to being as bad as people thought.

That's the bottom-line message from dozens of scientific papers scheduled for presentation at a four-day symposium that opened here today at the American Chemical Society's national meeting, according to symposium organizer Ruth A. Hathaway. Entitled "Recovery From and Prevention of Natural Disasters," it is one of the key themes for the meeting, which runs through Sept. 14.

James Lee Witt, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), will deliver the keynote address on September 14. Witt, now CEO of James Lee Witt Associates, LLC, headed FEMA during the Administration of President Bill Clinton.

"As I look at the presentations in this symposium, that's perhaps the most striking message," Hathaway said in an interview. "The dust has settled now and all the hoopla is over. We've actually had a chance to look at the real-world data from New Orleans. All indications at this point are that the hurricanes were not as devastating in stirring up chemicals as once feared.

"The data shows that there is no real need to ban fish consumption, for instance. Levels of some toxic metals are high in parts of New Orleans, but not generally higher than before Hurricane Katrina or in some other urban areas.

Hathaway, of Hathaway Consulting in Cape Girardeau, Mo., is an organizer of the symposium, which includes 37 presentations on hurricanes, tornadoes and other disasters. Speakers range from chemists who analyzed levels of toxic metals in New Orleans to ecologists studying environmental consequences of Katrina's storm surge to academics reporting on damage and recovery of universities in the Gulf disaster zone.

In one report, Michael T. Abel, Ph.D., of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, describes finding potentially hazardous levels of lead and arsenic in New Orleans soil samples collected after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. "It should be noted that similar values found in this sampling effort were present in studies conducted before the hurricanes," Abel wrote in a summary of his presentation.

Jianmin Wang, Ph.D., and colleagues from the University of Missouri at Rolla, report that they collected 238 soil and sediment samples one month after Hurricane Katrina and analyzed them for pesticides and heavy metals. The pesticide levels were "generally not of great concern," they concluded.

In another study, Gregory J. Smith, Ph.D., reported that Hurricane Katrina's storm surge (rise in water driven by wind) severely scoured marshlands and barrier islands east of New Orleans and the Mississippi River. About 118 square miles of land in southeastern Louisiana was initially transformed into water, added Smith, who directs the U.S. Geological Survey's National Wetlands Research Center in Lafayette, La. Such changes reduce the ability of coastal wetlands to shield coastal communities from further hurricanes, he explained.

Smith believes science has a role to play in restoring the coast. "In many ways science, engineering and technology have played a role in human development of the coast, and it is these same enterprises that offer the greatest opportunity for transforming our coasts from ones that are vulnerable, like those impacted in 2005, to ones that are resilient," he said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "New Orleans 'Toxic Soup' A Less Serious Problem Than Initially Believed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 September 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060915204558.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2006, September 17). New Orleans 'Toxic Soup' A Less Serious Problem Than Initially Believed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060915204558.htm
American Chemical Society. "New Orleans 'Toxic Soup' A Less Serious Problem Than Initially Believed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060915204558.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Iceland Lowers Aviation Alert on Volcano

Iceland Lowers Aviation Alert on Volcano

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Iceland has lowered its aviation alert on its largest volcano after a fresh eruption on a nearby lava field prompted authorities to enforce a flight ban for several hours. Duration: 01:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lightning Hurts 3 on NYC Beach

Lightning Hurts 3 on NYC Beach

AP (Sep. 1, 2014) A lightning strike injured three people on a New York City beach on Sunday. The storms also delayed flights and interrupted play at the US Open tennis tournament. (Sept. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thailand Totters Towards Waste Crisis

Thailand Totters Towards Waste Crisis

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Fears are mounting in Bangkok that poor planning and lax law enforcement are tipping Thailand towards a waste crisis. Duration: 01:21 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Melting Ice Shelves Drive Rapid Antarctic Sea Level Rise

Melting Ice Shelves Drive Rapid Antarctic Sea Level Rise

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) A study of almost 20 years' worth of satellite images shows Antarctic sea levels are on the rise as ice shelves continue to melt. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins