Pollution & Debris Stirred by Sandy Threaten Coastal Waters
Source: Becky Oskin, Our Amazing Planet
Oil, pesticides, PCBs: Drip by drip, year after year, pollutants are absorbed into New York City's streets, and now Hurricane Sandy's floodwaters are soaking them out. Hurricane Katrina's urban floodwaters had high levels of bacteria, lead and harmful levels of chemicals including phosphorous and arsenic, studies found.
Local officials in New York City are warning residents to steer clear of the potentially toxic soup, particularly around areas like the Gowanus Canal Superfund site. But the contaminated waters are also raising concerns among those who monitor the health of beaches and bays along the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.
Their biggest concern isn't coffee cups and two-by-fours bobbing out to Chesapeake Bay, but loads of polluted sediment drowning marine life. As Hurricane Sandy's floodwaters head out to the coast, the chemicals will attach to sediment scoured off fields, lawns and forests, getting a free ride to open water.
"There's a great deal of pesticides and fertilizers, as well as urban residue and runoff, all of which puts a lot of chemicals into the water," said Doug Inkley, a senior scientist with the National Wildlife Foundation. "All of the pollution will attach to sediments and settle out when it reaches large bodies of water," he told OurAmazingPlanet.
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