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EPA Releases Additional Flood Water Sampling Data

Release Date: 09/14/2005
Contact Information:


Contact: Eryn Witcher, 202-564-4355 / witcher.eryn@epa.gov
      CORRECTION: Due to a programming error, sampling test results for September 6 contained two inaccuracies. Values of arsenic and hexavalent chromium were displayed three orders of magnitude lower than the actual results. At one site, for instance, the value for arsenic was shown as 0.013 micrograms/liter when it actually was 13.0 micrograms/liter. The safe drinking water level for arsenic is 10 micrograms/liter. With respect to hexavalent chromium, the value of 0.015 micrograms/liter was originally displayed, when in fact the correct value should have been 15 micrograms/liter. This level is below the safe drinking water level of 100 micrograms/liter.

(9/14/05) The Environmental Protection Agency in coordination with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality today posted flood water sampling data for chemicals from Sept. 4 and 6, 2005. The data has been reviewed and validated through a quality assurance process to ensure scientific accuracy. Hexavalent chromium and arsenic, in addition to lead which was previously detected on September 3rd, were detected at levels which exceeded EPA drinking water standards. These compounds would pose a risk to children only if a child were to drink a liter of flood water a day. Long-term exposure (a year or longer) to arsenic would be required before health effects would be expected to occur. Thallium was detected at one sampling location and while levels are slightly elevated, they are 10 times lower than levels at which there would be a health effect. Given these results, EPA and CDC advise the public and emergency responders to avoid contact with flood water when possible. If contact occurs, EPA strongly advises the use of soap and water to clean the areas if available.

The September 5th data is currently undergoing review and validation. The data will be released once this process is complete.

Flood water sampling data for biological pathogens from Sept. 6 through 10, 2005 have also been posted for public review. E. coli levels are still greatly elevated and remain much higher than EPA's recommended levels for contact. The public and emergency responders should continue to avoid contact with flood water when possible. If contact occurs, EPA strongly advises the use of soap and water to clean areas if available.

EPA in coordination with federal, state and local agencies will continue to release data as it becomes available. To view the data, visit: http://www.epa.gov/katrina/testresults