Georgia and the rest of the nation have been closely watching the weather-related devastation that occurred and may yet occur during this hurricane season. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and the impending and potential devastation of Hurricane Irma, many residents of the affected states could be facing a significant health crisis. Flooding tends to bring significant dangers with it when it comes to water pollution.
Part of the problem is due to chemicals and sewage that become part of the flood waters. Prolonged exposure to the waters (such as walking around in it) can cause rashes, boils and burning eyes and skin. Other ailments associated with the digestive system, such as diarrhea, could become widespread due to the ingestion of contaminants. Even the toys that children play with need to be sanitized first if they were exposed to flood waters at all.
Respiratory infections may also occur depending on the circumstances. Fortunately, the clean water initiatives and technological advancements here in the United States should limit these types of issues. Once flood waters recede, mold becomes a significant issue. This is where a number of respiratory issues could arise. Individuals need to be mindful of this potential and should prepare for it appropriately.
Another issue could develop because of mosquitoes that tend to love standing water. Illnesses such as West Nile and Zika could cause numerous problems. Experts also cannot rule out the mental impact of flooding on depression, anxiety and stress.
Even though Georgia may not be directly affected by the water pollution from these hurricanes, it does provide a poignant reminder of how important clean water is. Without the environmental protections and efforts of both governmental agencies and private companies, more Americans would experience unnecessary illnesses and physical ailments. If a company or developer needs to know more about applicable water quality standards and how to best adhere to them, it may be beneficial to contact an environmental law attorney for assistance.
Source: CNN, "The hidden health dangers of flooding", Jen Christensen, Aug. 31, 2017