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Water and Sediment Sampling Results Released - Sediment Data 9/30/05

Release Date: 10/06/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: Eryn Witcher, 202-564-4355 /

(Washington, D.C.-October 6, 2005) EPA, in coordination with Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, collected water and sediment samples from multiple locations across the New Orleans metropolitan area between September 26-30, 2005.

Sediment samples for September 30, 2005 indicate the continued presence of petroleum products. Arsenic and lead were detected at levels exceeding ATSDR/CDC health guidance values based on ingestion. EPA and ATSDR/CDC conclude that exposures at these levels to emergency responders are not expected to cause adverse health effects as long as the proper protective equipment is worn such as gloves and safety glasses. Volatile, and semivolatile organic compounds, including polycylic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), as well as pesticides and heavy metals including aluminum, were found, but at levels below what ATSDR/CDC considers to be immediately hazardous to human health. Bacterial contamination consistent with the presence of sewage was also detected. EPA and ATSDR/CDC recommend avoiding all contact with sediment deposited by the flood water, where possible, due to potential concerns associated with long-term skin contact. See: for advice for workers and returning residents.