New research on Hurricane Harvey’s health impact, two years later

Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area two years ago this month, but many residents are still dealing with the effects of the storm.

For the past two years, researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and around the Houston area have been studying the health impacts on the population. Their work covers everything from chemical exposure caused by floodwater to long-term psychological distress brought on by storm trauma.

Researchers hope that the lessons learned during Harvey can provide a guide for the community on how to prepare for future storms.

Cheryl Walker, professor and director of the Center for Precision and Environmental Health at Baylor College of Medicine, said just as people were starting to recover from Hurricane Harvey's flooding, they tested the physical and mental health of people from different areas.

"We found out, for example, that some people were exposed to as many as 40 chemicals, some people were exposed to as few as only a dozen chemicals. There was a lot of variation there," said Walker.

She said they deployed brand new wristband technology that had never been used after a disaster to see how a disaster affected people's health.

"The wristbands we deployed were able to measure over 1,500 chemicals that people were exposed to for that first week after the flood," said Walker.

She said their work covered everything from chemical exposure caused by floodwater to long-term psychological distress brought on by storm trauma.

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