Hurricane Harvey public health concerns

There are many hazards and health concerns now that the immediate flood concerns are beginning to subside. 

Much of Houston has become a water world of dangers.

Objects and hazards hidden underneath the water people could potentially injure themselves on.

Drowning and injury were the initial concerns with flooding from Harvey. But beyond that, what's inside of that water can be dangerous.

“In the days to weeks going forward we’ll certainly be concerned about infectious disease, particularly diarrheal disease, just due to a breakdown in the water and sanitation systems,” explains Professor Scott Meschke from the Department Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the University of Washington.

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In the event of extreme flooding, waste water plants can't handle the flow and end up discharging fecal matter into the vicinity. The same water people are wading through can lead to infection and disease.

And if that wasn’t enough to worry about, there's the threat of chemical exposure with the release of a toxic soup from the chemical refineries, which adds a dangerous complexity to the already overwhelming problems.

Even as the water begins to recede and homes start to dry out, the concern will shift to mold.

Full mold remediation of thousands of homes will be necessary and dangerous bacteria will be present on everything that had contact with contaminated water.

“So if you've got children and see their toys have been exposed to the water, make sure that these toys are cleaned or bleached thoroughly before the kids play with it, or they run the risk of diarrheal diseases,” says Meschke.

Every city and every state are vulnerable to disaster. Professor Meschke says disasters preparation is a priority.

One of the most important points he makes is to be sure you have a large supply of protected, clean water on hand for hydration and cleaning.