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Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-2006-0027-3001, New Orleans Police Department, New Orleans, Louisiana.

West-CA; Bernard-BP; Kitt-M; Mueller-C; Tak-S; Driscoll-RJ; Hurrell-J
Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, HETA 2006-0027-3001, 2006 May; :1-29
In October 2005, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a health hazard evaluation (HHE) request from the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) management asking for assistance in documenting the extent of injury, illness, and mental health problems among NOPD officers subsequent to Hurricane Katrina, which occurred in August 2005. In response, NIOSH investigators met with NOPD management and employee representatives to design and prepare for a survey. On October 17-28, 2005, NIOSH investigators gave questionnaires to 912 NOPD personnel. The self-administered questionnaire covered demographics, smoking history, work duties and location, Hurricane Katrina activities, medical care and counseling services sought, and presence of symptoms occurring after the Hurricane. Among the new-onset symptoms (symptoms that were not present prior to Hurricane Katrina), head/sinus congestion (45%) and nose/throat irritation (43%) were the most common physical symptoms reported. Daily upper respiratory symptoms were associated with contact with floodwater to the eyes, nose, or mouth (prevalence ratio [PR]=1.6, 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.3,2.1) and floodwater sediment (PR=1.9, CI=1.4,2.6). Floodwater contact with eyes, nose, or mouth and contact with floodwater sediment were also associated with reports of daily cough ([PR=1.7, CI=1.3,2.3][PR=1.8, CI=1.3,2.5]) respectively. Floodwater sediment contact was associated with daily lower respiratory symptoms (PR=2.4, CI=1.3,4.3). Those who reported that floodwater came in direct contact with their eyes, nose, or mouth (PR=1.9, CI=1.1,3.2) were more likely to report daily gastrointestinal symptoms as were those who reported contact with floodwater sediment (PR=2.4, CI=1.2,4.7). NOPD personnel who reported floodwater contact with their skin (PR=1.5, CI=1.2,1.9); eyes, nose, or mouth (PR=1.2, CI=1.0,1.3); and skin contact with the floodwater sediment (PR=1.3, CI=1.1,1.5) were more likely to report skin rash. Nineteen percent of personnel reported symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and 26% of NOPD personnel reported depressive symptoms 8 weeks after Hurricane Katrina. Officers who experienced an assault (PR=2.0, CI=1.2,3.5), had an injured family member (PR=2.3, CI=1.5,3.4), were involved in crowd control (PR=1.6, CI=1.1,2.1), or participated in recovery of bodies (PR=1.7, CI=1.2,2.3) were more likely to report symptoms consistent with PTSD. The following factors were associated with depressive symptoms: rare contact with family (PR=1.6, CI=1.2,2.1), injury of a family member (PR=1.7, CI=1.2,2.4), and Hurricane damage to the home rendering it uninhabitable (PR=1.4, CI=1.0,1.8), an assault (PR=1.8, CI=1.0,3.1), or isolation from their regular NOPD assignment (PR=1.5, CI=1.1,2.0). This information is not a substitute for clinical evaluation but is an estimate of the impact of the Hurricane and its aftermath on the health of NOPD personnel. Physical and mental health symptoms were associated with work-related exposures in NOPD personnel due to Hurricane Katrina. Clinical follow-up for physical and mental health symptoms should be provided for NOPD personnel affected by the Hurricane. Recommendations pertaining to the findings of this evaluation are included in this report.
Region-6; Hazard-Confirmed; Respiratory-system-disorders; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Police-officers; Emergency-responders; Lung-disease; Lung-disorders; Epidemiology; Statistical-analysis; Demographic-characteristics; Psychological-effects; Psychological-reactions; Psychological-responses; Dermatitis; Skin-irritants; Eye-irritants; Respiratory-irritants; Author Keywords: Police Protection; disaster response; PTSD; depression; respiratory; gastrointestinal; occupational health; hurricane recovery efforts
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Field Studies; Hazard Evaluation and Technical Assistance
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division