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Thursday, October 27, 2005 

Heavy contamination found in New Orleans, including on Children's Playgrounds

So says MSNBC....

http://msnbc.msn.com/id/9828116/

Key quote is this. How funny, the private oil company says the area is safe, just as the EPA has been saying:

Heavy metals were found in the soil on the school’s playground, the groups said.

“Kids are always playing in the dirt and putting their hands in their mouths,” Anne Rolfes, director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, said in a statement announcing the results. “Why aren’t our government agencies talking about these risks?”

Murphy Oil sent a letter to residents earlier this week saying that testing by a company it had retained showed little threat of long-term health issues.



Saturday, October 22, 2005 

Experts Cite New Orleans Disaster Health Risks

Disaster News Network chimes in with this story (sadly reported nowhere else) about a roundtable discussion health and environmental experts held.

One doctor not only warned residents to protect themselves, but drew the parallel to 9.11 and what New York is still dealing with because the EPA refused to take the health threat seriously. Note, when he says respirators, he DOES NOT mean paper masks. We've seen a number of pictures of people cleaning up wearing those. They will absolutely not protect you from most harmful particulate matter:

"In New Orleans and the South you will have dust and it will be made up of all kinds of things," said Lioy. "We're still tearing down buildings (in New York City) because we can't clean them up. This will also be an issue the South will have to deal with."

Related to the dust, Lioy said that knowing its specific make-up is crucial to cleaning it up correctly. "Characterize your dust now, know what's in it and know it well. It's not just one single chemical, it's multiple toxins. And those toxins may not alone impact people, but they could react differently mixed together."

Lioy also advised those present to make sure no one is left out during the cleanup phase and to make sure responders and workers are equipped with respirators. Pointing to an image of Ground Zero cleanup workers with respirators resting around their necks, Lioy cautioned the conference-goers.

"One of the most serious issues after Sept. 11 was that no one wore respirators (during cleanup)," he explained. "You need to make sure that not only government workers and large contractors have them, but that everyone has them and wears them."


Friday, October 21, 2005 

New Orleans Workers Sick, Groups Protest

Many immigrant laborers have been showing signs of illness from working around the polluted reminants of Hurricane Katrina. That's just a glimpse into the serious damage that can be done by even longer term exposure. Fortunately, a number of groups are protesting that the government properly protect these workers.

The New Standard reports:

Roger Cook, executive director of the Western New York Council on Occupational Safety and Health (WNYCOSH), said workers have developed rashes and coughs from the work, but no one appears to be doing anything about it.

"Contractors are hiring immigrant workers right here in Houston and taking them to New Orleans to do cleanup," Juan Alvarez, director of the Latin American Organization for Immigrant Rights in Houston said in yesterday’s statement. "I know men who have gotten so sick with diarrhea, skin inflammations and breathing problems. They can't work, so they've come back here. The contractors just hire more."


Tuesday, October 18, 2005 

Another critique of the LSU Study

Piggybacking on the post below, we missed this NRDC release on the LSU study of flood waters in New Orleans. Basically says what we said, but in a more complete way. Check it out here:

http://www.nrdc.org/media/default.asp#1012a


 

LSU Conflict of Interest on Testing?

Going back to a story from a few days ago, when LSU researcher John Pardue said his testing found that flood waters were no more dangerous than normal flood waters in New Orleans.

We have found that the LSU program that Pardue heads is part of The Hazardous Substance Research Center/South and Southwest. What's that, you ask?

From the Center's website:

The South & Southwest Center was established in October 1991 under Section 311(d) of CERCLA to conduct research and technology transfer designed to promote risk-based management and control of hazardous substances for the nation and regions 4 and 6 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


In other words, Pardue and Louisiana Water Resources Research Institute at LSU works for the EPA. That would be the same EPA that has been putting out flawed testing results for a while. Now why would Pardue want to put out any test results that says the EPA is wrong and piss off his bosses?

This brings serious doubt to the credibility of the LSU results.


Saturday, October 15, 2005 

Scientist Warns Legislature: DO NOT Return to New Orleans Yet

According to this piece, not only did a doctor tell the legislature that it wasn't safe to return, but many of the Legislators told her they were sick themselves from toxic exposure!!

Testifying at a joint hearing of the Health and Welfare Committee, Miriam Aschkenasy, an emergency medicine physician, warned that exposure to sludge and mold, when coupled with limited medical services in rural areas, could result in a public health nightmare...

"Many people are getting mixed messages about their return," said Aschkenasy in written testimony. "There should be no confusion. It is not safe to return at this time. If people return, they need to fully understand that they are putting themselves at risk. If they choose to return, and many will, they need to know when and how to get help, and how to protect themselves to avoid further catastrophe."

Legislators didn't need much nudging on the issue: Some of them had already experienced uncomfortable health effects during their own cleanups.

"Several of them came up to me afterwards and said, 'I got sick,'" said Aschkenasy. "One woman said she got a rash and hives from her house, and her friend was sick with a fever and a lung infection. Another legislator during the testimony said he and his wife went to clean up and she got so sick with headaches and nausea that he sent her back to her family."


 

Another Must Read from Michelle Chen

Michelle Chen with the New Standard does some more grunt work to get a full picture of what the situation in New Orleans is. A must read, all the way through, but this stands out:

When visiting one of the spots in the city where Subra had recently taken sediment samples, Robert Verchick, a law professor at Loyola University in New Orleans, happened upon a mother and daughter preparing to reenter their housing complex. The only barriers between the women and the slew of hazardous chemicals that Subra had detected were sweat suits, rubber gloves and cheap face masks tacked upside down over their faces.

The EPA’s recent public service announcements advise residents to wear a "dust mask" when handling debris containing lead, asbestos or chemical residues, but according to industrial guidelines, basic dust masks will not protect against airborne asbestos or toxic vapors.Yes, they had looked on the internet for safety information, they told Verchick, and were following the mayor’s instructions to wear protective clothing and proceed with caution. They told him they knew nothing about local sediment contamination.

"It’s amazing to me," Verchick told TNS, "that not only is the government allowing these folks to be in areas that we now know have extreme contaminants, but that they’re not even giving people information about these contaminants."


Read the full article here.


Thursday, October 13, 2005 

How to Handle Asbestos and Other Hazmats (In one word - DON'T!)

Take a look at the picture below of professional workers doing asbestos remediation and what they are wearing (courtesy of LVI Environmental Services).


That is the right way to handle any material that may contain asbestos, as many houses in New Orleans do, and the proper way to handle things like that toxic sludge. WHY then does the EPA and the city tell people that a minimum of wearing gloves, goggles, and masks only is OK? Why are they even telling people there is any reason at all to handle this stuff? (Note, in the link, they first say not to handle it, but then tell you how you should handle it - what are people to think?)

If you have to go back, do not handle anything left behind by the flooding unless you look like that picture. Even better, call professionals to handle it.


 

New Orleans Lessons - Could it happen to you?

Osha Gray Davidson does a wonderful job at looking at the situation in New Orleans and applying what happened there to potential environmental disasters that could occur elsewhere. Is your hometown listed?

Check here: http://www.grist.org/news/maindish/2005/10/11/davidson/index.html


 

Nagin Campaigns to Rush People Back

The Washington Post has a report this morning on the campaign (in every sense of the word) by Mayor Nagin to coax people back to New Orleans. The article cites a relatively low number of returnees coming back.

Here is a suggestion to the Mayor. Tell people why they are being sent back in to the Lower 9th Ward, which has been independently tested and shown to be extremely dangerous, and explain to residents of other areas why their area wasn't retested when the independent analysis showed the EPA's testing of the Lower 9th was off target.

*crickets*

Residents are wise to exercise caution until irrefutable testing is done of all areas.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005 

Immigrant Workers Sick in New Orleans, and Water Testing

This article in the Associated Press explains that many immigrant workers in New Orleans have been taken to the hospital, ill from exposure to the environment in New Orleans:

Advocates said the lack of protective gear is leading to health problems. Juan Alvarez, director of the Latin American Organization for Immigrant Rights in Houston, said he recently took five or six workers to the hospital after they complained of respiratory problems and diarrhea upon their return from New Orleans.


In a number of stories today, there is news that testing on the water around New Orleans has been tested and shown to be relatively clean. In fact, the testers say, it's no more dangerous than normal flood waters.

Yet, the person who conducted the testing, Pardue, states all the shortcomings of his tests:

1. Limited sampling ("snapshot").
2. No sampling was done in industrial areas where spills occured.
3. Samples were taken just after the flooding, before chemicals would have had time to spread.
4. The leftover sludge, still present in the area, is the most hazardous.

So, take these results with a grain of salt. We're all awaiting testing being done by the NRDC which is widespread and follows the more scientifically sound two-week monitoring period.


Monday, October 10, 2005 

Fate of New Orleans Superfund Sites?

USA Today takes a look at the number of Superfund sites around the New Orleans area, and whether or not they've spread their hazardous materials. Many local activists are worried that they have, while the EPA says they just don't know.

Remaining contaminants "could've spread to other neighborhoods ... and it could've spread contaminants right into living quarters," says Darryl Malek Wiley, the Sierra Club's New Orleans representative. "I would hope that they finally just relocate people out of the area."


Sunday, October 09, 2005 

Victim of mold warns "Stay Away from New Orleans"

More on toxic mold, from a victim of this severe danger:

Whenever Josh Sommer thinks about the thousands of New Orleans residents starting to venture back to their flooded city, he gets a queasy feeling. He wants to warn them to stay away.

Sommer knows what might lurk in the walls, floors and furniture in their waterlogged homes: smelly, scary, sickening mold.

The Duke University freshman, 17, is on a mission to warn the public about the health risks of toxic mold. What motivates him is personal experience.

Four years ago, he says, mold nearly ruined his life.


Read the full story here: http://newsobserver.com/news/story/2813464p-9259248c.html


 

The Toxic Mold Danger

Be on the lookout for a slew of stories about mold in New Orleans. Unfortunately, a number of insurance-paid scientists are getting out there trying to downplay the significance of the dangers of mold, confusing reporters' stories.

This story appears today in the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. Sharon Kramer, an expert on the toxic mold issue goes through the story, exclusively for New Orleans Environment Watch, line by line, below (her comments in bold italics).....


Unwelcome guest moves in as Gulf Coast dries out
By Julie Goodman

GULFPORT — Angela Hawthorne, 48, who lives with her son and three grandchildren in her Gulfport home, has struggled to tend to debris, roof damage and water-soaked carpeting left by Hurricane Katrina.But once the mess was contained, another horror emerged: black and white mold that is slowly working its way from her floors and baseboards up the walls.
The stench is stifling.

"I just couldn't do nothing but cry, I was so upset," said Hawthorne, whose family now lives on the property in two travel trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"It freaked me out. I kind of got nervous because I never knew what black mold was."
In the aftermath of Katrina, Hawthorne and other residents around the Mississippi Gulf Coast are discovering the nasty manifestations of mold, which has appeared as green, white and black spots on their walls, furniture and refrigerators in homes with little ventilation. Mold reproduces by way of tiny spores and begins growing indoors when the spores land on wet surfaces. And the homes Katrina left standing have plenty of those.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, controlling moisture and eliminating mold growth can help contain potential damage to health and property. The agency recommends scrubbing mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and drying completely for small moldy areas in the home.

This woman is living in a Level IV Contaminated area. Professionals in HasMat suits are recommended for this much mold.

See:
Remediation of Fungi in Indoor Environments - New York City Guidelines

Some homeowners struck by the storm surge have been told they need to strip their homes down to the wooden frame and yank out their carpeting for a thorough drying out.

That's true. But at this amount, pros should be doing it, wearing full protection.

Residents with asthma, organ transplants and emphysema are struggling with the growth more than others, describing coughing, irritated throats, dry mouths and trouble breathing. Many have launched into frenzied cleaning with bleach and water, trying to rid their homes of the mold while not knowing what, if any, dangers they face.

It is known what dangers they face. And bleach is not recommended by the EPA at all, except for smaller areas. The reason is that the spores react to it and they become "angry". They shoot off mycotoxins in defense as you are trying to kill them. Even after they are dead, non viable mold spores can still cause reaction when inhaled or eaten.

See: http://www.moldinspector.com/bleach-ineffective-mold.htm

But Dr. Gailen Marshall, an allergist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, cautions residents not to overreact.

Gailen Marshall is an ALLERGIST. He is not qualified to comment on toxic reactions. It would be highly unlikely that he has done any research on mycotoxins. Nor is he qualified to discuss psychological implications of patients. He is, however, a member of the ACAAI, of which Emil Bardana is President.

Dr. Bardana is a prolific expert witness in courtrooms denying the existance of mold induced illnesses caused by buildings and for the benefit of their clients who would have financial liability.

That's why when they are spinning, you will never see an allergist talk of the mycotoxins. They can't. Not qualified.

See this site for example of Dr. Bardana's previous work against a woman trying to get workers' comp for mold exposure: http://www.katu.com/team2/story.asp?ID=73443

While mold can pose significant health risks to those with seriously compromised immune systems, it does not generally threaten healthy individuals. Mold can cause disease in someone with an abnormal immune system, but mold doesn't create the abnormality.

Here is the spin. What is an abnormal immune system? One who got sick? We are genetically engineered differently, some are more susceptible. But I know people who have never been sick a day in their lives to become gravely ill after mold/toxin exposure. Apparently their immune systems were "abnormal". Of course one does not know if they are "abnormal" until they are exposed to excessive amounts of mold.

People with healthy immune systems can develop allergies with prolonged exposure to mold, also. "An allergy doesn't kill people but it certainly can make them miserable and dramatically compromise their quality of life," Marshall said.

Define "allergy". Is he only discussing Type I allergic reactions? Because Type III and IV Hypersensitivity Reactions can certainly kill you.

Hawthorne, who, along with her grandson, is asthmatic, complains of a dry mouth, and says her heart starts beating more quickly when she's around the mold. She dons a mask whenever she works in the house, which is mainly to wash her grandchildren's clothes.

"Once you open the door, it hits you in the face," she said. "I've just been coughing and coughing, like something wants to cut my wind off."

The mold is prevalent around the bottom of her granddaughter's room, where white and black spots have taken over the bottom half of the bedroom walls.

Talk of the so-called "black mold" is ubiquitous on the Coast. Stachybotrys chartarum, as it's scientifically known, is the classic black mold. Another type is Aspergillus, which can lead to an asthmatic condition that causes scarring in the lungs.

Different species of aspergillus produce toxins. Aflatoxins. Aflatoxins have been studied as biochemicals to be used in warfare. Aspergillus is a nasty mold. Because it is so prevelant, it has done much more damage to people than stachybotris.

But that condition is life threatening in less than 5 percent of the cases, Marshall said.
"A sense of concern is appropriate, a sense of urgency and panic is not appropriate," he said.

I would totally agree with this statement. But there is going to be panic if they don't get these doctors appropriately trained ASAP.

Marshall warns those cleaning their homes of mold to be wary of exposure to cleaning products in the zeal to scrub, as he has seen patients with lung damage under those circumstances. Cleaning should be done in well-ventilated areas, and he recommends purchasing a humidifier to help with the air quality.

Residents struggle to describe the smell that has taken over their homes.

"It just seems like an old, nasty smell, I guess," said Michael Mires, 26, a kidney transplant
recipient on anti-rejection medication.

This guy will most likely be dead soon if he stays in that environment. Molds are opportunistic. They will be settling in, in the area of his weakness.

He lives with his mother in a Gulfport apartment complex with water-soaked carpeting and says he's gotten so used to the stench, he doesn't always notice it.

The property owner says he plans to pull up the carpeting in the units but is still trying to repair roofs taken off by the storm.

Nearby, 42-year-old Regina Magee, who has emphysema, walks around her mold-infested home with a breathing tube and an oxygen tank.

Her breathing problems have been exacerbated since Katrina, and professional carpet cleaners told her the only thing she could do is pull up carpeting.

Her son had to wash her walls, and there is still black mold around her closet baseboard. She also complains of a phantom stench in her refrigerator she likens to cabbage. It returns despite periodic scrubbing and having emptied the refrigerator of all food after the storm.

She takes a baby photograph of her niece off her hallway wall and points to the mold growth on the back.

"I didn't want to throw my frame away. I know it's stupid, putting it back up," she said, as she
hanged the picture back on the wall.


Saturday, October 08, 2005 

Personal stories of danger

Elevating a couple of comments to post level. These are personal stories that back up the science and criticism posted on this website. Please keep reading posts below for more info.


I lost my health to toxic mold. There are thousands of us that have been trying to tell the government for years that toxic mold causes such severe illness. There is legislation HB 1269 that was introduced a year ago and so many ill wait for help. They are not giving out the proper information to protect these poor people. They are in such danger if they do not wear protective clothing, masks, etc. I now have a chemical asthma/reactive airways disease and I would not wish this on anyone. Linda
Posted by Linda 7:41 AM


You are right to be concerned about hazards in the environment. You are also right to be concerned that the major media are choosing not to let the public know about the danger.I wrote a major newspaper centered in the heart of the hurricane-damaged area. My letter would have warned their readers not to trust simple dust masks for protection against chlorine fumes, mold, and toxic dust. The newspaper wouldn't print it. Instead, they directed me to the user forums (where, incidentally, far fewer people would see this vital information). The main message -- to GET AN OSHA-APPROVED FACE MASK (RESPIRATOR) -- is not being publicized. Unbelievable!

Rescue workers in NYC on 9-11 used those same simple dust masks, and they found out too late that they did not work. Many New Yorkers are now disabled because they relied on substandard safety equipment.It is almost unbearable to know that newspapers and other media outlets refuse to warn their readers, listeners, and viewers of these dangers.
Posted by Richard Khamsi 4:54 PM


This comment was emailed in response to something one of us posted to the Huffington Post:

Thank you for writing your article. A little over a year ago my niece, Kimberly, age 22, died of the most aggressive form of leukemia. Four months after 9-11 she left Emerson in Boston and moved into NYC to attend NYU as a student in journalism. Her apartment was not that far from "ground zero". The doctors who diagnosed Kim felt that it was her exposure to the contaminants from the terrorist attack, particularly benzene, that accounted for the onset of this disease in someone who did not have the dna makeup to combat the illness successfully with any known treatments. She died a year after diagnosis and went through hell trying to save her life. During the course of her illness we heard of other people, like rescue workers, firemen, and policemen who were coming down with the same aggressive type of leukemia. Kim was not only a victim of Osama Bin Laden, but a victim of Bush and his policies, and the rush to return to business as usual in NYC. Flip sides of the same coin. I fear for the people who will return to New Orleans….


 

A note from a New Orleans Refugee

We are getting a lot of emails here, and many of them are moving. But we felt we had to share this one:


I am a refugee from New Orleans. My wife and I decided that we can not move our 8 month old and 4 year old sons back to the city because of the long term threat of pollution hazards. We made this decision early on, before the media was really discussing the toxic issue. My father is a retired neurosurgeon and researcher and made clear the numerous dangers, especially to children, in returning to the city. While this information should be all over the media, it is not. The general accepted thought is that returning is perfectly safe. We have numerous friends with small children that have already moved back to Jefferson Parish. When we try and warn them of the dangers, we come off as nuts because no one else is talking about this. I dread to see the long term consequences on the children. Why is no one discussing this and warning these parents?

Thank you for being a resource we can turn to for truth and support. Please stay vigilant and follow this through. We are counting on you.


Friday, October 07, 2005 

Independent Testing Shows High Contamination in New Orleans


This story is very worrisome. Despite continuing to offer assuring words about the health threat in New Orleans by Ray Nagin, his agencies, and sometimes the EPA, independent testing in New Orleans shows returning to the city for longterm exposure could be deadly.

Even as Ray Nagin told residents yesterday to come on home and drink up, according to The Advocate, "Wilma Subra, a New Iberia chemist overseeing the sampling project, said the results show that officials should not be allowing residents back home."

Additionally, says the report, Subra said the results mean residents could face both short-term and long-term health risks, which could include "respiratory problems, asthma, skin rashes and damage to internal organs -- and, potentially, cancer over the long-term."

Couple this news with the shocking Salon story yesterday, and warnings issued by the NRDC as well, and you can see that returning to New Orleans could be extremely dangerous.


Thursday, October 06, 2005 

BREAKING: Senators From Both Parties Come Down on EPA for New Orleans

FINALLY, the Congress has awakened to the reality that the government is possibly sending people back to a dangerous situation in New Orleans and not fully clueing them in on the health risks. Note, these are both D's and R's. The public health should not be a partisan matter, and it is good to see that in this case, it is not.

Read the AP Story on it here:

http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/news/nation/12836077.htm

Some choice quotes:

  • "EPA may not be providing people with the clear information they need," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. "EPA should be clear about the actual risks when people return to the affected areas for more than one day."

  • "The people of New Orleans need to feel safe, need to feel like there's a plan," said Sen. David Vitter, R-La.

  • The committee's chairman, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., expressed skepticism about the two-page government handouts on environmental and public health risks that EPA helped compile.
    "It bothers me a little bit," Inhofe said. "How many people are going to see the report?"

  • Sen. James Jeffords, I-Vt., called the government's response to Katrina "apparent chaos."

  • Some recalled the Bush administration's response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, when the White House directed EPA officials to minimize the health risk posed by the cloud of smoke from the World Trade Center collapse. Within 10 days of those attacks, EPA issued five news releases reassuring the public about air quality without testing for contaminants such as PCBs and dioxin.

  • It was only nine months later - after respiratory ailments began showing up in workers cleaning up the debris and residents of lower Manhattan and Brooklyn - that EPA could point to any scientific evidence, saying then that air quality had returned to pre-Sept. 11 levels.
    "I hope that we're not seeing history repeat itself," said Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.


Wednesday, October 05, 2005 

NEW ORLEANS: "You can't live in this place. You can't live down here"

Salon today runs an absolutely damning story about the government's rush to get people back in the area and what they could be facing. It closes with the quote above from a woman who went back to look at her home.

We encourage everyone to read this story and send it around, along with the NRDC release below, which goes into some more detail about the situation. Returning to New Orleans without protection or for an extended stay is no joke. It could mean serious illness or death.

Some choice selections from the story (but please, read it all!)


  • Long-term risks from the pollutants now being found in and around New Orleans include cancer, birth defects, spontaneous abortions and asthma. The EPA has also underplayed the threat of mold. Health experts say trillions of mold spores, exacerbated by the late summer heat, could sicken a large population of children, people with asthma, older residents, and people with weakened immune systems, the New York Times reports.

  • Houck says some illnesses might not show up for years or may never be identified by health authorities. Katrina wiped out many impoverished communities in southern Louisiana, and often indigent people cannot afford to go to doctors. "They are going to get sick and they are not going to know why," Houck says.

  • Jean Kelly, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, says the agency would like to proceed with more caution, but allowing people to return to their homes "is not really our decision. We can advise the mayor, but it is his decision whether or not he wants to bring people back in. That is not something we have control over."

  • Some of the EPA data has confused Nagin himself. At a Sept. 19 press conference, Nagin said an EPA report to him on the danger of returning to some neighborhoods was confusing. "We also looked at the [EPA] report as it relates to flooded areas," Nagin said. "And it was a very clever attorney who wrote the report. So it basically bounced on both sides of the issue and didn't really tell you much."

  • Pressure to open New Orleans, says Kaufman of EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, is as intense today as it was on Wall Street soon after Sept. 11. "The appearance of 'back-to-normal' gets local industry going, then real estate, and so on," he says. "It's the same issue today, except that the locations and contaminants are different, and people talk with a different accent."

  • What's more, [St Bernard Parish President Steve Cannizaro] says, the parish of 68,000 residents "is one step away from being financially destroyed; businesses are flat on their ass." People need to return and start buying and building again. "You can't operate a government without taxes," he says.

  • "This is a potential catastrophe," [New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler] says today. "We don't want two catastrophes. We had maybe a thousand killed from the hurricane. You want another thousand killed because of the environment? Maybe five thousand?"


 

BREAKING: New Orleans Being Environmentally Tested for Real; SERIOUS Warnings Issued


This was just sent out by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The group will be in New Orleans this week "to establish a program of independent toxicity testing, meet with community groups and scientists, and talk with local, state and federal officials."

The group is issuing some very serious warnings regarding the environmental health hazards, until testing can prove the area is safe:

Given the EPA's failure to properly inform returning residents, many are being exposed to toxic water, air, and sludge without protective clothing, respirators, or even simple face masks. Even emergency workers and local police have been going without protective clothing, which is required by EPA and Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations for toxic and oil cleanup efforts.

"People are getting sick today from the contamination in New Orleans," said Dr. Gina Solomon. "Worse still, this city is a time-bomb for future risks of asthma, respiratory disease, and even cancer from the pollution in the city."



The announcement also elaborates on where EPA testing is substandard:

Instead of using a more realistic two-week exposure duration to calculate the threat posed by such toxins as benzene and xylene, Dr. Solomon explained, the agency is using a much less realistic 24-hour exposure comparison, which understates the danger. According to EPA's own monitoring data, many returning residents are being exposed to benzene -- a known carcinogen and nerve toxin -- at levels significantly over the federal government's safety level for two-week exposure. In places near oil refineries, the agency found benzene levels higher than 40 times this safety level.

God bless the NRDC, the only ones looking out for the people of New Orleans.


 

Fifty Percent of Fish Die in New Orleans Flood Water

Boy, talk about a newspaper doing spin for those like Ray Nagin who want people to come on back without knowing the real health effects. This story in The Advocate today makes it seem like things are just fine with the water in New Orleans. Fact is, when the flood waters were heavily diluted by the relatively clean water in Lake Ponchartrain, the toxicity was diluted. Duh! A tablespoon of arsenic is deadly, but if we take that tablespoon of arsenic and put it in 4000 gallons of water, that water is still relatively OK.

But note what happened when fish were exposed to pure flood water. When the flood water dries, leaving a toxic concentrate behind, does the situation still seem so rosy?

On Tuesday, DEQ released results of recent biotoxicity tests done in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. These tests involve placing aquatic invertebrates and fish in floodwater samples being pumped from New Orleans...

Two additional samples showed a 50 percent mortality rate with a water
sample that was 100 percent flood water...


Tuesday, October 04, 2005 

Toxic Mold in New Orleans Could Be Like Gulf War Syndrome

We're not into advertising, and have not read this collection of peer-reviewed studies, but the 2004 study entitled, "Mold and Mycotoxins: Papers from an International Symposium," suggests some very disturbing effects of exposure to toxic mold of the same type growing without abandon in New Orleans. The summary, found here (with information on how to buy the entire report), states:

Physiological functions and brain scans (single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and quantitative electroencephalograms) were abnormal. Mechanisms of mold damage to brain cells resemble those for Gulf War Syndrome, chemical intolerance, and exposure to chlorine, ammonia, or hydrogen sulfid (“rotten egg”) gases. Clear evidence of brain impairment in several hundred people controverts questions and charges of malingering and secondary gain.

Last evening on CNN, as well, a Lou Dobbs report made clear that nearly everyone is questioning the wisdom of Mayor Nagin's decision to let people back in to the city. Most people are showing proper caution and not coming at all, or coming back to look and then leaving immediately.


Monday, October 03, 2005 

New Slogan For New Orleans?

A little humor from today's Candorville here:

http://www.comics.com/wash/candorville/archive/images/candorville2732580051003.gif


 

What's Mold Got to Do With It?

We all have heard now about the "toxic mold" growing in houses in New Orleans. Yet, people are being allowed back into the city, as buildings with mold are being raized and the mold spores travel around. What could the effect be from exposure to this mold? See this 1999 USA Today article...

IT STARTED with a series of leaks. Within a year, Melinda Ballard's 11,500-square foot Texas dream home was quarantined; her 3-year-old son, Reese, was on daily medication to treat scarred, asthmatic lungs; her husband, Ron Allison, had lost his memory along with his job; and the family was living out of suitcases and locked in a seemingly endless battle with their insurance company. The problem? Household mold.


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  • We are a group of former Congressional staff, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) staff, and environmental group staff tracking and analyzing the news, in real time, from New Orleans from an environmental health perspective.

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