08 September 2005

Montezuma Moves North

First EPA Tests Confirm New Orleans Floodwater Risky Even for Skin Contact

September 08, 2005 — By Lauran Neergaard, Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Floodwaters in New Orleans contain levels of sewage-related bacteria that are at least 10 times higher than acceptable safety limits, endangering rescue workers and remaining residents who even walk in it, federal officials said Wednesday.

Results of the first round of testing by the Environmental Protection Agency were no surprise, but reinforced warnings that everyone still in the city take precautions to avoid getting the water on their skin -- especially into cuts or other open wounds -- much less in their mouths.

"Human contact with the floodwater should be avoided as much as possible," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson.

Health hazards from that water make it imperative that remaining residents comply with evacuation orders, added Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"If you haven't left the city yet, you must do so," she said.

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