|NIEHS Launches Website with Global Information System for
Assessing Environmental Hazards from Hurricane Katrina
A new website with a Global Information System will provide valuable information
for assessing environmental hazards caused by Hurricane Katrina. The National
Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), one of the National Institutes
of Health, created the website to provide the most up-to-date data to public
health and safety workers on contaminants in flood waters, infrastructure and
industry maps, as well as demographic information for local populations.
The NIEHS Hurricane Katrina Information Website accessible at http://www-apps.niehs.nih.gov/katrina/ provides information on assessing and evaluating hundreds of potentially hazardous
environmental pollutants that may pose a risk to human health. The website draws
from information that NIEHS has acquired from a variety of sources including
its research programs, as well as through its Superfund Basic Research Program,
Worker Education and Training Program, and Environmental Health Science Centers.
The website also includes a link to a new Global Information System (GIS) that
NIEHS is developing with several academic partners. The GIS will contain layers
of data, including the locations of refineries, oil pipelines, industrial facilities,
Superfund sites, Toxic Release Inventory Data, agricultural operations, as well
as maps and satellite images of schools, neighborhoods, and medical facilities,
that will help assess the short and long effects of Katrina on the Gulf region.
“With a disaster of this magnitude, people need many things, including easy
access to science based information so they can make informed decisions to further
reduce their risk of harm,” said NIEHS Director Dr. David Schwartz. “Consolidating
information in this new website is one vehicle that NIEHS is using to help our
Information in the GIS, such as the demographics of populations before Katrina
will be helpful as health officials treat displaced citizens who may have been
previously exposed to toxicants. Subsequent phases will provide more in-depth
information to fully assess exposures and make informed decisions about risk
“This GIS has the capability of being a powerful tool to fully assess and evaluate
the short- and long-term environmental health effects of Hurricane Katrina. It
will help us all make informed decisions about the uncertainty of risk of exposure
and potentially enable us to better understand the links between exposure and
disease, “said William A. Suk, Ph.D., Director of the NIEHS Superfund Basic Research
Other partners working with NIEHS in the development of the various phases of
the GIS include Duke University, University of California at San Diego, University
of Kentucky, Johns Hopkins, University of Arizona, Boston University, Columbia
University, Research Triangle Institute and Harvard University.
The Hurricane Katrina Information Website also provides other ongoing NIEHS
efforts related to recovery efforts, including collaborations with other federal
The NIEHS, a component of the National Institutes of Health, supports research
to understand the effects of the environment on human health. For more information
on environmental health topics, please visit our website at http://www.niehs.nih.gov/.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research
Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of
the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary Federal
agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical
research, and investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common
and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.