Texas Flood: Pollution Levels Before and After Hurricane Harvey

This article is about a research study done to measure the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons before and after Hurricane Harvey. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAH’s come about after a large buring of substances and can cause cancer, eye, kidney and liver problems. PAH’s are normally found in an area within Houston called Manchester. Manchester is located near many refineries and industrial sites – where a lot of these pollutants would be given off. Manchester is interesting to this dilemma because it is a predominantly latino neighborhood, and, therefore, face disproportionate health risks due to these hazards.

What the researchers found was that, due to all the major flooding that took place during and after Hurricane Harvey, these pollutants were displaced according to where they would normally be found. Or rather from places of higher concentration before the storm to lower concentration after the storm and vice versa.

This study is important because it represents a somewhat new area of research in the public health field. Due to climate change we are seeing a rise in “super storms” or natural disasters with extra strength. Public health officials want to be better at predicting the impact of these storms so that they can be more efficient when it comes to relief or preparing for these storms.

This news story is relevant to our class because we have discussed environmental justice and disparities as well as climate change, while we will soon discuss pollution and its effects. This is also very relevant to my major being that I am a public health major. This study is rather small and looks a one specific pollutant, but more importantly this new area of disaster preparedness and relief study specifically for superstorms is very important to the field. And eventhough this aritlce does not make any broad assumption it contributes to Houston and their situation which will have to be done for eventually for each community and each type of natural disaster in order to be accuartely prepared.

The authors intended audience is most likely Houston and other Public Health officials in order to inform the citizens and inspire officials for further study. The main researcher in this study was a Professor from Texas A&M, Jennifer Horney. She is an associate professor as well as the head of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. Dr. Horney most likely has compassion for her community so she was interested in doing her part by conducting the research. She is also in the Public Health field of epidemiology and maybe noticed a rise in cancer, eye, kidney and liver problems and wanted to trace it to the source of the issue and came across the PAH’s.