On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck coastal areas in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi, causing numerous deaths, massive infrastructure damage, and flooding. The two hardest hit areas were along the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Mississippi. The State of Louisiana and the City of New Orleans invited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to assist with the rebuilding of the city's public health system. Between September 11, 2005, and October 29, 2005, investigators from CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) were deployed to New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Their main objectives were to assist Federal, state, and local agencies in addressing occupational safety and health issues, to perform health and injury surveillance and exposure assessments among workers, to perform outreach to vulnerable workers, and to develop and disseminate occupational health information. Three teams of personnel responded to numerous requests for assistance in evaluating exposures to mold, chemicals, biological agents, floodwaters, dust and dried flood sediment, flood debris, and noise. Except for a limited number of noise exposure samples above the NIOSH recommended exposure limit and carbon monoxide levels above the NIOSH ceiling limit, environmental sampling for a variety of substances including asbestos, metals and dust did not reveal levels above recognized occupational exposure limits. A summary of the findings was shared with workers and employers. Safety hazards such as broken glass posed a risk to workers. Worksites in the flood-ravaged areas had varying degrees of capacity for hazard recognition, evaluation, and control. In general, the need for readily accessible, pertinent, understandable information regarding workplace hazards and exposures was apparent throughout the response, and distribution of information proved challenging.
Region-4; Region-6; Exhaust-gases; Asbestos-dust; Dusts; Metals; Metallic-dusts; Metallic-compounds; Emergency-response; Emergency-responders; Microorganisms; Molds; Noise; Noise-exposure; Fire-fighters; Police-officers; Personal-protective-equipment; Respiratory-protective-equipment; Heat-stress; Heat-exposure; Surveillance-programs;
Author Keywords: emergency response; hurricane; flooding; floodwater; contamination; remediation; mold; sediment; dust; debris; carbon monoxide; noise; safety; OSHA; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; fire fighters; police; New Orleans; Louisiana; Gulf Coast