217259 Need for Exposure Assessment in the Community near Hurricane Debris Landfill

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chih-Yang Hu, MSPH, ScD , Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Program, Louisiana State University - School of Public Health, New Orleans, LA
Yu-wen Chiu, DrPH, MPH , Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Public Health, New Orleans, LA
James Diaz Sr., MD, DrPH , School of Public Health-Environmental and Occupational Health, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, LA
Daniel Harrington, ScD , Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Program, Louisiana State University/ Health Sciences Center/School of Public Health, New Orleans, LA
Guang Jin, ScD , Department of Health Sciences, Illinois State University, Normal, IL
Background: In 1965, the closed Agriculture Street Landfill in New Orleans was emergently reopened to receive Hurricane Betsy debris. Later, the landfill site was designated a Superfund site after several toxicants were discovered in the soil. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana and caused devastating damages. To expedite the city clean up, hurricane debris disposal was permitted in several emergency landfills, including the unlined Chef Menteur landfill (CML) in New Orleans East. The Vietnamese American community near CML has expressed mounting health concerns over CML for the past four years.

Issues: The unlined CML has received over 6 million cubic yard of hurricane debris which contains hazardous waste, and is surrounded by wetlands and with no leakage collection or monitoring system in place. The Vietnamese American community uses water from canal that connecting to CML for irrigation but feel uncertain about the safety of their crops post Katrina. After meeting with the community organization and reviewing documentation of hurricane debris and CML condition, the following community health concerns were identified: Potential toxic exposure from landfill leakage contaminated community-grown vegetables and local seafood. Landfill off gas exposure

Conclusion: Environmental justice means no group of people should bear disproportionate share of negative environmental consequence. The target community clearly bears more potential adverse health impact from the expedited hurricane clean up policy than others. Therefore, to prevent toxic exposure, a long term environmental monitoring program or remediation of the CML is essential.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe the potential health impact of hurricane debris and wastes in landfill. Discuss the impact of decision making post disaster cleanup on environmental justice issue.

Keywords: Disasters, Environmental Justice

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the primary author
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.