Researchers at Oregon State University used silicon wristbands to measure increased exposure of Houston residents to dangerous chemicals after the 2017 Hurricane Harvey.
Wristbands have recorded exposure to 162 chemicals, including pesticides, flame retardants, industrial compounds, and phthalates. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons..
Researchers followed up the study participants a year after Harvey to estimate the baseline and allow them to analyze the exposure caused by the storm. On average, 75% of the chemicals detected at both time points, HurricaneHowever, people’s baseline exposure was already high.
“Houston is one of our most industrialized cities,” said Kim Anderson, head of environmental molecular toxicology at OSU and inventor of the research wristband. increase. “A year after the storm, we see that some areas near the industrial zone, or socio-economically disadvantaged areas, had high levels of chemicals from the beginning and only worsened when a hurricane occurred. increase.”
Silicone wristbands are a useful screening tool because they absorb chemicals from air and skin contact. Anderson uses them in similar studies in Africa, Europe and South America.
Many of the chemicals recorded in the Houston study have not yet been thoroughly tested to determine their potential health effects, the researchers said. However, some heavier polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons have been found to be carcinogenic, and exposure to phthalates can adversely affect reproductive health.
The research team began work shortly after Harvey landed, received sampling approval within a week, and distributed research wristbands to 173 residents within three weeks.
“At that point, the flood was still occurring, which I think is a major strength of the study,” said co-author Diana Rollman, an associate professor of public health and human sciences at OSU. increase. “From a public health perspective, that’s the data people want:” I’m actively flooded and actively cleaning my house. What am I exposed to now? “
She said this prompt response is important because previous disaster responses, such as the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, were delayed by up to six months awaiting test approval.
The team also conducted a small pilot survey of 27 residents within the first 10 days after Harvey’s attack. According to Anderson, these 27 samples contained the most chemicals researchers had done elsewhere in the world.
The main concern in Houston was the number of superfund sites damaged by the post-Hurricane flood. Superfund sites are areas of serious pollution that the Environmental Protection Agency considers to require federal mitigation efforts.
According to a 2020 report by the Schreiber Center on Poverty Law, 70% of superfund sites nationwide are within a mile of federal housing projects and are contaminated by low-income communities, most often color communities. Emphasizes the unbalanced burden.
There are a total of nine superfund sites in Oregon. There are 41 cities in Houston. Of these, 13 were flooded during the hurricane, but researchers say the total impact of the floods is unknown.
“There are this pocket of pollutants mobilized into the water, but they are also in 5 feet of rain, which can be a diluting factor,” Anderson said.
Within the first few days of the hurricane, 89 industries reported “unintended releases,” Rollman said. Several plants in Houston were closed in the aftermath of a storm, reducing emissions, but Texas also granted an urgent exemption from manufacturing plant clean air requirements, which could lead to further pollution, researchers said. Said.
In addition to the chemicals released by Damage caused by a stormThe wristband also recorded many of the chemicals used in common household cleaners. These chemicals were exposed when residents cleaned their homes after the flood.
Until further research is conducted on the individual chemicals recorded in the study, Rollman shall provide specific safety information other than the standard recommendation to wear gloves and masks when cleaning flooded areas. I said I can’t.
The study was published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.. Additional authors of the Houston study were Samantha Samon of OSU, Lane Tidwell, Peter Hoffman, and Abiodun Oluyomi of Baylor College of Medicine.
Samantha M. Samon et al, Association of Increased Chemical Exposure to Hurricane Harvey in Vertical Panels Using Silicone Wristbands, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (2022). DOI: 10.3390 / ijerph19116670
Oregon State University
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Studies found that Houston residents’ exposure to chemicals increased after Hurricane Harvey.
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