Recent extreme weather and fires are dislodging chemicals and toxins from soil, homes, industrial waste sites and other sources, putting people at a greater health risk, according to research by Naresh Kumar, a professor of environmental health at the University of Miami.
Former Environmental Protection Agency science adviser Thomas Burke told the New York Times that part of the problem is the ubiquity of chemicals in modern life. Though there are strict laws to control contaminants during demolitions, there’s no way to do so during a natural disaster, said Burke.
Kumar and others warn that the ability of contaminants to stay in the environment after a disaster and to accumulate over time makes this threat different to other health risks caused by climate change.
Kumar’s research is part of a new wave that could help people better understand the risks that the toxic mix of contaminants poses. Recent quick-response grants have enabled researchers to examine the immediate