Post-Katrina, arsenic contamination haunts New Orleans

Published: Sunday 30 September 2007

Even after two years, hurricane Katrina still haunts people in us's port city New Orleans in Louisiana state. Floods that came in the wake of the hurricane have left the soil in the city's schools contaminated with layers of arsenic. A recent report by the advocacy group Natural Resources Defense Council (nrdc) says that six schools in the city, tested after the hurricane, had arsenic double the permitted levels. Though state and federal environmental agencies were informed in June 2007, no action was taken, it claims.

The nrdc collected samples from 116 residential areas, elementary schools, and playground sites in New Orleans in March 2007. Results showed that six of the 19 schoolyards tested contained arsenic in their soil.The level of heavy metal was double the permitted levels by the Louisiana department of environmental quality and the us Environmental Protection Agency.

The possible sources of arsenic, experts say, could be the accumulation of arsenic-based pesticides displaced from the bottom of Lake Pontchartrain, trash incineration, leakage from industries, or lumber treated with chromium-copper arsenate.

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