The Real Problem With Standing Flood Water Is Disease

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The huge amount of flooding and standing water in the wake of Sandy's inundation of the East coast isn't just leaving power outages and destroyed houses in its path, it can leave a wake of disease as well.

Marissa Fessenden explains in the Scientific American live blog about Sandy:

In metropolitan areas especially, water can also harbor raw sewage, infectious organisms, gasoline and harmful chemicals.

People in areas flooded by Sandy should follow recommendations by FEMA on Ready.gov/floods to avoid flood waters and make sure their water supply is safe to drink.

Water-borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid fever and vector-borne diseases such as West Nile can increase after a flood, according to the World Health Organization.

Flood waters also conceal dangers under the water — open manholes, washed away roadways and sharp debris, Fessenden explains. Floodwaters also contain chemicals like lead, arsenic, and chromium. Multiple reporters in flooded areas of Manhattan and New Jersey also reported strong smells of gas and oil. Downed power lines can also electrify the water.



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