As if having your home filled with floodwaters wasn't traumatic enough, the Christian Science Monitor reports that inundated buildings can serve as toxic traps for dangerous contaminants.
Epic floods have waterlogged the Midwest for the past few years. But it is also the lessons learned from the hurricane-battered Gulf Coast that have given public health experts reason for concern.
Fuels, heavy metals, fertilizers, industrial solvents, cleaning agents and more can accumulate in low spaces and get trapped in submerged structures, often depositing in fine silts as waters evaporate. After Katrina, researchers at Louisiana State University documented that arsenic, cadmium, vanadium and lead were substantially higher in some homes than the maximum levels that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers safe.
The Monitor adds that molds can absorb and retain toxic organic compounds that may be present in flood waters.
Much more work needs to be done before scientists have a clear picture of the dangers left from flooding. Currently, agencies do not have a handle on the best recommendations to give homeowners as far as when they can move back into flooded areas, or what steps really need to be taken to make dwellings safe again.
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