Post traumatic stress and Katrina
| 11.30.2005 | 11:21:29 | Views: 2938 | ID:
November 30 '05: Medical officials in states along the Gulf Coast ravaged by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma have said that lingering health and emotional problems have mixed with environmental concerns which have caused increasing amounts of strain and stress to the victims of the hurricanes.
Knight Ridder news services reported Wednesday that according to one surgical technician working in the area health problems are "a cumulative effect here." Claire Gilbert told the news service, "You get a little cough. You get a nose that runs. You get eye irritation. Then you get falls. And you've got the stress. It's not just the little things. It's how they all add up."Many residents in New Orleans and other areas hit by Hurricane Katrina have said that mold and toxic waste left by the storm has hurt recovery efforts. Knight Ridder reported, "Burning storm debris, increased diesel exhaust, runaway mold and fumes from glue and plywood in new trailers are irritating people's lungs and nasal passages." "Weary residents," Knight Ridder found, "trying to clean up and repair their homes are falling off roofs and cutting themselves with chainsaws. And the stress is fracturing the psyches of countless storm victims." And the Director of the National Center for Environmental Health, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atltanta, GA Dr. Howard Frumkin told Knight Ridder, "In many ways, this is the major environmental health disaster of our lifetime. ... It's a very complicated set of risk factors people face. ... This is a huge set of environmental challenges." Frumkin said high levels of toxins such as acrolein, formaldehyde, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are way above the government's levels of acceptance and that many of the toxins found in the air and water are known to cause cancer. Another medical official, William Gasparrini, a clinical psychologist from Biloxi, Mississippi was surprised at the level of stress victims of the storms are exhibiting. Gasparini said, "The effects are lasting longer than I suspected. ... I thought everything would be back to normal in three to four weeks. Now, three to four months later, it looks like it'll be one to two years - if we are lucky. There are a lot of people in pain - a lot of people who cry every day."
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