North Carolinenses could face weeks of toxic mud and contaminated water even after Hurricane Florence has passed.
Rainfall is expected to reach three feet, parts of the state could soon be flooded with everything from coal ash to pig manure and even nuclear debris from flooded sites.
Mud and all the fecal matter and toxins it may contain will be susceptible to seeping into the farm floor, groundwater and wells.
Daily Mail Online analyzes the threats to health that can lurk long after the storm has passed.
Even after Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina and the storm subsided, three feet of rain, plus storms, could cause flooding and water pollution.
Winds of up to 130 mph and a 13-foot storm surge will arrive in North Carolina in the next few hours.
Although the damage inflicted by the storm itself will undoubtedly cost the state billions and destroy homes, dirty flood waters have the potential to make more people sick.
North Carolina, several other states and territories of the United States. UU And countries, including Japan, have seen the horrors that floods can release in the water before.
"It's a problem that is behind the scenes and can not be detected," says Dr. Neill Grigg, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Colorado State University.
For example, in the aftermath of Puerto Rico, initially 20 deaths were reported. Now the toll is 3,000.
Dr. Grigg says that populations affected by hurricanes, especially the most vulnerable, such as children, the elderly and the disabled, receive a series of successes that slowly increase the number of deaths.
"There are people injured, and then sometimes they can suffer another accident, and it takes a while and it weakens them even more … this kind of thing is endemic with floods," says Dr. Grigg.
It's just gigantic. We do not talk as much as short-term losses, like people who lose their homes and belongings, but often we do not see long-term illnesses. "
Environmental pollution plays an important role in that long-term effect, and North Carolina's industries make it especially vulnerable.
North Carolina has a pork industry of $ 1.5 billion, but billions of pounds of manure could end up in the water after Florence, while pigs swim to save their lives as they did after Hurricane Floyd.
FLOODING WATERS COULD RAISE THE PORK FERTILIZER OF THEIR FLOORS
Flood waters could lift pig manure from its wells
North Carolina is one of the largest pork producers in the country, with a pork industry of almost $ 1.5 billion.
The animals produce 10 billion pounds of manure each year. This manure is stored in "lagoons", open pits of land, in which tons of animal waste are poured from the farms where the pigs are kept.
"Pork, chicken, animals and human waste have many different types of bacteria," says Dr. Grigg.
"The mortal is E. coli, but all kinds of diseases can make you sick by contact and drinking contaminated water."
Earlier this year, water contaminated with E coli infected the lettuce, which in turn made some 200 people sick and even killed five in the United States.
In 1999 and 2016, Hurricanes Floyd and Matthew, respectively, brought floodwaters that invaded several pig lagoons. It is not clear how many people could have become ill after any of the storms.
The state has urged the pig farmers to pump as much waste as possible from these ponds and transport them.
Andy Curliss, CEO of the North Carolina Pork Council told Bloomberg that the lagoons can accommodate an additional 25 inches of rainwater, but forecasters anticipate up to 36.
Coal ash has already contaminated water supplies in North Carolina. Floods could lead to unhealthy levels of carcinogenic arsenic in drinking water
THE ASH OF FINE CHARCOAL DISSOLVED IN WATER BECOMES ARSENIC-LADEN MUD
Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency discovered that coal ash ponds in North Carolina had so contaminated drinking water that the levels of toxic chemicals were more than 40 times the level that the agency considered safe.
Like pig manure, much of this ash is stored in pools, where water prevents it from evaporating.
But this means that it is equally vulnerable to flood waters, which can dilute the mud solution and carry the ash far and wide.
"Charcoal ash contains arsenic, and the way it reacts with water can change the chemistry of water, infecting water from the source even after it has been treated," says Dr. Grigg.
In addition, many North Carolina residents have their own wells in the backyard that can be easily contaminated with flood waters.
Drinking arsenic-laden water has been linked to all sorts of long-term ailments, including an increased risk of cancer, hardening of blood vessels, heart disease and nerve pain.
There are six nuclear power plants in North Carolina and severe floods have the potential to ruin their cooling systems, leading to a meltdown that could release radiation.
NORTH CAROLINA NUCLEAR ENERGY PLANTS COULD FACE FAULTS AND FILTER RADIATION INTO THE ENVIRONMENT
Nuclear power plants in North Carolina could face melting and radiation leakage to the environment
There are five power plants in North Carolina, including the Brunswick plant, along the state's south coast, which is expected to be the most affected area of the state.
In the hurricanes of the past, structures have remained strong, and officials insist that they have only strengthened since then.
Nuclear power plants depend on the intake of water, often from rivers or other natural bodies of water for their cooling systems.
However, if the plant is flooded the water can ruin the electrical power systems that feed its cooling mechanisms and this in turn leads to overheating.
If the core overheats, the ability of plants to contain nuclear radiation can also fail, releasing radiation into the environment, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.
In addition, "what could be stored around the plant that could be unique to that power plant enters the floodwater," says Dr. Grigg.
& # 39; What could be stored around the plant that could be exclusive to that power plant could enter the flood waters & # 39;
In 2011, the three reactors of the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan melted after a tsunami caused the closure of their cooling systems; The fear is that something similar could happen in North Carolina.
In the short term, the staff of the plant and the surrounding communities had sufficient warning to avoid dodging before the collapse.
These people may be at an elevated risk of thyroid cancer, although they still have a significantly lower risk than those affected by higher doses of radiation from the Chernobyl incident.
The World Health Organization closely monitors food and water for contamination. Radiation levels in some foods and in iodine were high at the beginning of the crisis, but now the ingestibles appear to be safe.
But that was only a few years ago.
THE FUTURE EFFECTS ARE UNCERTAIN AND IMPERDIBLE
"Anything related to radiation is going to be longer term, causing cancer, etc.," says Dr. Grigg.
"In the short term, they are more acute gastrointestinal problems with bacteria, not only because of the pollution of the river and the water from the source, but also because of the flooding of the pipes that surround the system."
These acute infections could continue for a week or even two, but it will be difficult to know how much the flood has affected public health until well after the storm.
"The acute phase will last a week or two, it takes a few days for the water treatment to work again," says Dr. Grigg.
Then come the relief and recovery phases.
"But one of the health problems is pain and mental health problems, many deaths occur in the recovery phase, but it's hard to say, it just depends on the severity," said Dr. Grigg adDs.