New Orleans should clean up its waste

The city of New Orleans has been in the news for a while now, with each month seemingly ushering in a shocking new phase. At first, it was the tragedy of the city being destroyed

The city of New Orleans has been in the news for a while now, with each month seemingly ushering in a shocking new phase.

At first, it was the tragedy of the city being destroyed by Mother Nature. Then it became clear that our government either did not care enough or was too stupid to properly react to the situation.

Now there is startling new information that indicates the worst is yet to come for the Big Easy.

According to the March/April issue of E/the Environmental Magazine, there are significant levels of toxic substances in New Orleans. Just think about that for a second.

Tourists from all over the United States flocked to the Big Easy for a watered-down Mardi Gras celebration on Feb. 28.

First off, how can people be allowed to take part in one of the world’s biggest parties in a city that is still utterly decimated? Secondly, authorities had to have known that toxicity levels in the city were high, so how could they consciously endanger the lives of tourists?

Some of the lingering effects of the disaster include an affliction that locals are calling the “Katrina Cough.” Doctors are not sure how widespread the cough is or what exactly is causing it. All they know is that this upper respiratory illness is affecting the people who are returning to the city.

Some experts believe that the cough is merely connected to the earlier-than-expected allergy season. Early estimates show a 25 percent increase in the amount of people suffering from the cough and other allergy symptoms.

There is definitely something wrong when doctors cannot conclude what exactly it is that causes the cough. The sad part about all of this is that the Katrina Cough, may very well be the least of the survivor’s worries.

Dangerously high levels of lead, dioxin, chromium, arsenic and other hazardous substances have been found all throughout the city.

If something is not done about these toxic substances, there could be catastrophic long-term effects, including birth defects and an elevated risk of cancer.

Another alarming affliction that New Orleans-based doctors have had to combat is skin rashes that do not react to normal antibiotics.

Katrina survivors who were exposed to the toxic floodwater have developed skin infections. Doctors advise those who are trying to rebuild their homes to wear masks so they can protect themselves from mold and other dangerous spores in the air.

If there is such a danger present, citizens should not be allowed back in the city. By allowing them to enter, it is basically inviting them to contract a sickness.

While the southeastern Louisiana area has seen better times, it has never been environmentally friendly. There is a portion of the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans that is affectionately known as “Cancer Alley.”

Along this stretch are more than 100 chemical plants and other factories that dump their environmental waste into the river.

This poisoned water was already affecting the poor neighborhoods it drained into, but once the levees broke due to Katrina, the city was engulfed.

Toxic sediment and mold cover a large portion of the city, yet there is still not a concrete cleanup plan in place, which is only hurting the citizens of New Orleans who are trying to salvage what is left of their lives.

John Lamb can be reached at

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