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Katrina Still a Danger to Children

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 By Dick Layman/David Law, Contact
August 28, 2007

Two years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and much of the gulf coast, a threat lingers for school children who have returned to their neighborhoods. More than 30 New Orleans schoolyards have tested positive for arsenic. Dr. Gina Solomon, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, says state and federal agencies are avoiding their legal and moral responsibilities.

"Testing done by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2005 showed arsenic in many parts of the city, but the government agencies have not followed up on that report."

Solomon says arsenic exposure is particularly harmful to children, and believes there is no justification for allowing arsenic anywhere near kids and other residents.

"It’s not rocket science to clean up arsenic and the government agencies should be in there cleaning up the schools, cleaning up the playgrounds, and cleaning up the hot spots in residential neighborhoods."

Solomon wants the government to perform additional sampling and clean up of toxic sites, establish a process for debris management and fully inform the public of health risks. Approximately 1,800 families left New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and relocated in Iowa. 25 percent of them have reportedly returned.

The full NRDC report is at www.nrdc.org/health/effects/neworleans.asp.

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