A new study examined concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) before and after Hurricane Harvey in the Houston environmental justice neighborhood of Manchester.
Recent years have seen rising interest in improving post-disaster research, with calls for more and better studies coming from the academic community and agencies such as the National Institutes of Health. Although understanding the wide-ranging effects of disasters is vital for an effective public health response, a lack of baseline data has made it difficult to attribute post-disaster changes in environmental conditions to the impacts of disasters.
In a new study published in the journal PLOS One, Jennifer Horney, PhD, associate professor and head of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the Texas A&M School of Public Health, along with researchers from Texas A&M and the Pacific Northwest National Lab, examined concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) before and after Hurricane Harvey in the Houston environmental justice neighborhood of Manchester. Manchester, which is located near refineries and other industrial sites along the Houston Ship Channel, is a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood where residents face disproportionate health risks due to pollution and other environmental hazards.
As disasters become more frequent and populations living in vulnerable areas increase, interest in the health effects of exposure to the combination of natural and technological disasters has grown. Flooding and disaster-related equipment failures can lead to far greater exposure to environmental health risks. In this study, Horney and colleagues focused on PAHs, which are a product of combustion from human activities such as petroleum consumption in transportation or natural processes such as wildfires.
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