Impacts of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on Coastal Ecosystems: A Pre and Post-Storm Assessment of Chemical and Biological Contamination
Kimani Kimbrough 1, Gunnar Lauenstein 1, Roger Fay 2, A.K. Leight 3 and Robert Warner 1
1 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment, Silver Spring, Maryland
2 TDI Brooks International, Inc., College Station, Texas
3 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research, Oxford, Maryland
After the passage of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and coastal State agencies initiated a comprehensive effort to assess human-health and environmental impacts. The response was designed to quantify the magnitude and extent of coastal contamination, and associated human-health and ecological effects resulting from these unprecedented storms. NOAA and partners continue to evaluate storm impacts, and herein we provide a summary of chemical and biological contamination results generated by NOAA’s National Status and Trends Program, along with initial documentation of post-storm contaminant ‘response’ trajectories measured during the months following landfall. Results are provided for trace element, organochlorine, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, and polychlorinated biphenyl concentrations in sediments and oyster tissues. Statistical analysis of pre- and post-storm data found that organic contaminants were generally equal to or lower than historic concentrations at the same sites. Results for trace element analyses indicate the opposite, with metals generally being higher than historic concentrations.