Chemical Quality of Depositional Sediments and Associated Soils in New Orleans and the Louisiana Peninsula following Hurricane Katrina

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Environmental Science Technology



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Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Louisiana peninsula south of New Orleans on Aug 29, 2005. The resulting storm surge caused numerous levy breaches in the parishes of New Orleans as well as on the Louisiana peninsula. This study was conducted to determine the concentrations of inorganic and organic constituents in sediments and associated soils in New Orleans parishes and the Louisiana peninsula after the floodwaters had been removed and/or receded following Hurricane Katrina. A total of 46 sediment and soil samples were analyzed that were collected throughout New Orleans and the Louisiana peninsula. Approximately 20% of the sediment samples were analyzed, including shallow sediment samples from locations that included the top and beneath automobiles, in residential and commercial areas, and near refineries. Gasoline constituents, pesticides, and leachable heavy metals were analyzed using headspace gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS), organic extraction GC/MS, and inductively coupled plasma/mass spectrometry, respectively. A significant number of samples had leachable As and Pb concentrations in excess of drinking water standards. The remaining metals analyzed (i.e., Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, and V) generally had much lower leachable levels. Of the gasoline constituents, only benzene was observed above the limit of detection (of 5 μg/kg), with no samples observed as being above the method detection limits of 10 μg/kg. For the 18 pesticides analyzed, most were in the nondetectable range and all were in trace amounts that were orders of magnitude below regulatory guidelines.

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