Airborne mould poses serious health threat in New Orleans

People who have returned to the devastated city of New Orleans are facing fresh problems from high levels of airborne mould, which experts say pose a serious health threat.

A leading environmental group yesterday released the results of a study carried out across the city that they said highlighted a significant danger. The group, the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC), accused the government of failing to warn people of the issue. The findings are the first publicly available air quality tests in the city since Hurricane Katrina struck at the end of August.

"The outdoor mould spore concentrations could easily trigger serious allergic or asthmatic reactions in sensitive people," said Dr Gina Solomon, who led the NRDC team. "The indoor air quality was even worse, rendering the homes we tested dangerously uninhabitable by any definition."

The study looked at samples taken from 14 locations in the area, nine of which had been significantly flooded, and examined them for mould spores. They discovered the levels of such spores were extremely high inside flooded properties.

According to the National Allergy Bureau of the American Academy of Allergy and Immunology, any outdoor mould spore level greater than 50,000 spores per cubic metre is considered "very high". The spore counts outdoors in most flooded neighbourhoods tested by the NRDC reached well above that.

One outdoor site in Uptown was measured at 81,000 spores per cubic metre, while an indoor site in the same area had a count of 645,000 spores per cubic metre.

The group, whose tests were supported by a coalition of local organisations, said that the federal government's various agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Health and Human Services and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, are not monitoring mould levels in flooded areas and have not helped residents cope with the problem. It said that while there were no regulatory standards for either indoor or outdoor levels of the spores, it was the government's responsibility to ensure the public is protected.

Many US families forced to leave their homes by devastating storms have been told that funding for accommodation in hotels will be cut by 1 December. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema), in charge of the relief effort, has paid evacuees some $274m (£159m) since hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Almost 54,000 families are still living in hotels and motels in Texas, Louisiana, Georgia and Mississippi.

Fema wants people to move to temporary accommodation before finding new homes. "There are still too many people living in hotel rooms and we want to help them get into longer-term homes before the holidays," said David Paulson, acting director of Fema.

"Those affected by the storms should have the opportunity to become self-reliant again and reclaim some normalcy in their lives." From 1 December, most families staying in hotels will either have to pay the bills themselves or cover the costs with Fema housing aid.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?