information regarding these questions can be found by downloading
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Soil Contamination May Not Be As Serious As Feared (28KB
contaminated is the soil in Jefferson and Orleans parishes as a result
of flooding from Hurricane Katrina?
LSU AgCenter experts
say soil contamination in Jefferson and Orleans parishes from flooding
after this summer’s hurricanes may not be as serious as originally
feared. Initial results of tests conducted in October indicate no need
for special preparations to the soils prior to planting and that there
should be no danger for individuals digging or planting in the soil.
The LSU AgCenter
scientists and extension educators collected soil and sediment samples
from five areas -- Kenner, Lake View, City Park, Mid-City and Old Metairie
-- on Oct. 4.
indicate that the soil salinity in all areas is at or below levels acceptable
for even low-tolerance plants. The LSU AgCenter team also looked at
levels of heavy metals, such as lead, arsenic, cadmium, nickel, zinc
and mercury, in the samples. The test results also found the levels
of those materials in the soil samples were within normal soil levels.
was the soil and sediment salinity level after flood waters receded?
indicate that the soil salinity in all areas tested (Kenner, Lake View,
City Park, Mid-City and Old Metairie) is at or below levels acceptable
for even low-tolerance plants.
Soil salinity typically
is expressed as electrical conductivity of a solution extracted from
the soil at water saturation and is usually reported in millimhos per
centimeter (mmhos/cm) or decisiemens per meter (dS/m), according to
the experts. Using the decisiemens per meter as the measurement, LSU
AgCenter tests of the soil samples taken in October showed most of the
areas came in at less than 2 dS/m. Soil salinity values were slightly
higher in the Mid-City and Lake View areas, but, at 2 dS/m to 4 dS/m
those generally still should not cause problems.
deposited by flood waters were found to have high salt levels. In the
Lake View area, sediments were found to be high in salinity –
up to 16 dS/m. But heavy metal concentrations were found to be at or
below average for most soils.
Residents in areas
with a heavy accumulation of sediment should carefully remove the sediment
from lawns and planting beds.
I be concerned about pollutants in the sediments left after the hurricane
of pollutants in the sediment do not appear to pose any serious health
risk, the Environmental Protections Agency (EPA) recommends wearing
proper protective equipment, such as gloves and safety glasses, when
handling this sediment. The EPA also recommended washing with soap and
water following exposure, just to be sure.
The EPA has published
analysis from sediment testing in most all areas that were flooded in
New Orleans. It can be found at http://www.epa.gov/katrina/index.html.
LSU AgCenter experts
say extensive soil testing doesn’t appear to be necessary as people
return to their homes and try to reestablish their landscapes. But,
individuals who would like to have their soil tested may contact the
LSU AgCenter Extension office in their parish for instructions on how
to collect and submit samples for analysis – as well as information
on the types of tests that are performed.