The HSEES system is a surveillance database established to provide data that can be used to reduce the illnesses and deaths resulting from acute hazardous substance releases. The system is funded by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and operates in 15 states, including Louisiana. The system has four goals: To describe the distribution and characteristics of acute hazardous substances releases. To describe the illnesses (morbidity) and deaths (mortality) experienced by employees, responders and the general public as a result of hazardous substance releases or threatened releases. To identify risk factors associated with the morbidity and mortality. To identify strategies that may reduce future morbidity and mortality resulting from the release of hazardous substances.
An event is included in the database if it is an uncontrolled or illegal release of any hazardous substance (excluding petroleum only events) that needs to be removed, cleaned up or neutralized according to the federal, state or local law. Threatened releases are also included if the threat leads to an action to protect public health (e.g. evacuation).
Data collected for the surveillance database include information about the following:
SEET collects company reports of hazardous releases primarily from the Louisiana State Police (LSP) and the National Response Center (NRC). SEET also identifies releases reported by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the media. For detailed data, SEET contacts the responsible company, firefighters, police, medical personnel, HAZMAT teams and others who respond to these events.
Yes, SEET obtains information from all knowledgeable parties. Representatives of private industry have been very helpful in providing accurate information about events.
As a result of information obtained through HSEES, SEET is able to work with industry, government agencies and other parties to see that corrective measures and/or necessary training are provided to reduce subsequent morbidity and mortality when comparable events occur in the future.
This program relies on reports of hazardous substances releases from the LSP, NRC and other sources so that all qualifying releases can be included in the database. In addition, we rely on the public to report releases of hazardous substances to the appropriate agency (How can I report a release?). Any future benefit from the program can only occur if the data collected are complete and accurate. The success of the program depends on the cooperation of those who can provide the information.
Releases can be reported by calling the Louisiana State Police (LSP) at (225) 925-6595 or toll free at (877) 925-6595, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) at (225) 219-3640 Monday - Friday from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm or after hours, including holidays and weekends, at (225) 342-1234, or by calling the National Response Center (NRC) at 1-800-424-8802.
Mercury is an element that occurs naturally. It is released into the environment by both natural processes and human activity. This means there are small amounts of mercury in lakes, rivers and oceans.
The problem of mercury in fish is not unique to Louisiana, it is a global problem that many other states and countries are working to address. Mercury in fish is not new, either. In fact, scientists believe the levels of mercury found in our fish today are probably similar to those of the past 40 years. What is new is that we know more about mercury's harmful effects now than we did 40 years ago, and we can better measure mercury in fish. In 1993, The Louisiana legislature began funding The Mercury Program and over the last decade the program has grown, adding additional sampling locations each year. The Louisiana Departments of Environmental Quality and Wildlife and Fisheries sample fish from lakes and rivers across the state. The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals then evaluates the data that is provided and determines the need for an advisory.
Mercury usually causes no symptoms at low levels. However, if high levels of mercury build up in the human body, they can affect the brain and nerves. In addition, effects that can occur at high levels include learning problems and birth defects in children. Among people of all ages, high mercury levels can cause tingling or numbness in the mouth, hands and feet, and vision and hearing troubles. The primary source of environmental exposure to mercury in the general population is through consumption of contaminated fish. That’s why prevention of mercury build-up in our bodies is so important. Those who should be most careful when eating fish are:
· Children under 7-years old,
· Pregnant women,
· Women who are planning pregnancies,
· Women who are breast-feeding their babies, and
· People who eat a lot of fish over a long time from mercury advisory areas.
Unborn babies and children under 7-years old are at risk because their nervous systems are still forming, and any harm to those systems might be permanent. Pregnant women and women who are nursing their babies should be very careful about eating fish which contain high levels of mercury. Pregnant women can pass mercury from the fish they eat to their unborn babies, and nursing mothers can pass the mercury to their infants through their breast milk. Adults who have health effects caused by mercury simply can stop eating mercury-contaminated fish, and in most cases their health problems will go away as their bodies slowly get rid of the mercury.
It is not likely that there is an immediate need to be concerned about the health effects of mercury. Fish advisories are issued as a precaution. However, you should consult your doctor if you are concerned. (Tests are available to measure mercury levels in the body. Mercury in whole blood or in scalp hair is measured to determine exposure to methylmercury. Your doctor can take samples and send them to a testing laboratory.)
Doctors recommend fish as an important, low fat source of protein, but where mercury is present in those fish, it is important that certain people know the rules when eating fish caught from waters under mercury health advisories. The fact that mercury is found in fish from some Louisiana waters does not mean you have to quit eating fish. But if you eat large amounts of fish which contain mercury over a long period of time, you might experience health problems. There are no special cleaning or cooking methods that will take mercury out of fish. But there are some things you can do to reduce your health risks:
· Ask where the fish was caught, and call 1-888-293-7020 or check the Office of Public Health Website (
· Read the fish advisory and follow its directions about which fish to avoid or which fish you should eat less often;
· Eat younger and smaller fish, since they usually contain less mercury; and
· Get your fish from more than one body of water or source.www.oph.dhh.louisiana.gov/environmentalepidemiology/healthfish/index.html) to see if there is a fish advisory for that body of water;
Call 1-888-293-7020, toll-free, for more facts about mercury in fish and to request a current list of mercury advisories issued for Louisiana waters.
Additional information about Louisiana’s Mercury Monitoring Program is available on the Department of Environmental Quality Website at www.deq.louisiana.gov/portal/tabid/1631/Default.aspx.
For information on the US Environmental Protaction Agency's (EPA) Fish Advisory Program including the March 2004 Federal Advisory for women who might become pregnant, women who are pregnant, nursing mothers and young children, go t www.epa.gov/ost/fish/.
For information about the fish you buy in a store or restaurant, contact the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at (800) SAFEFOOD or www.cfsan.fda.gov/seafood1.html.
This is undetermined at this time. DHH has not identified data suggesting an imminent or chronic health hazard at this time. DHH is working with federal agencies and other states and will continue to review all available data to help determine a more definitive answer to this question.
DHH is not currently aware of any proven, complete method of effective remediation of emissions. Claims of treatment involving ozone, coatings, and air cleaners should be scrutinized for evidence of proven effectiveness. DHH recommends against the use of ozone generators in occupied spaces, because ozone is a highly reactive and irritating molecule and is considered hazardous to people and pets.
See the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report "Ozone Generators That Are Sold as Air Cleaners".
Environmental consultants, licensed plumbers; electricians; air-conditioning contractors; mechanical contractors and drywall contractors; home inspectors; your builder; electrical engineers; heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (or HVAC) engineers; industrial hygienists; or building scientists, to name a few. Be advised that each group will bring with them their own specialized expertise and experience.
There are no set criteria for who can perform a remediation of problematic drywall or affected building materials. DHH advises the public to hire Louisiana-licensed contractor(s) to perform the remediation and repairs. For example: use a licensed electrician to replace corroded electrical systems, a licensed AC contractor to replace or repair an air conditioner, a licensed drywall contractor to install drywall, or a licensed general contractor to oversee any needed demolition and/or coordination of subcontractors.
You and your contractor should also contact the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality for guidance in disposal of removed/used drywall.
If you have health questions, you should contact your physician first. We also ask you to report your concerns through our health survey. More than 300 Louisianans have participated in the department’s health survey as of June 15. Participation helps us to identify the scale and the spread of the problem, and will help our federal partners identify the best resources to apply to any potential solution. To join our survey, call DHH’s Indoor Air Quality hotline at (225) 342-8303 or 1-888-293-7020.
No. Based on results reported by homeowners to DHH’s Indoor Air Quality hotline, the department identified and visited 11 homes in May 2009 to conduct visual inspections and confirm reported conditions. The visits led to follow-up inspections in five homes by the U.S. EPA, which collected air samples and samples of drywall. At this time, DHH does not have the necessary resources to visit additional homes and collect air or material samples for analysis, however, additional guidance and some in-depth testing from the EPA is expected.
Molds are types of fungi. Mildew is another word for mold.
Some common molds are:
"Toxic molds" are those that produce compounds called mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are produced as as defense against other microorganisms. "Black toxic mold" can refer to a certain type of mold -- Stachybotrys chartarum (also known as Stachybotrys atra). Black is a color, not a type of mold. Therefore, not all black molds are Stachybotrys chartarum. There is also no type of clinical test to determine if you have been exposed to this type of mold.
Mold stains objects or areas such as walls and ceilings and has a musty, earthy smell. Mold can be hidden behind furniture, under carpets and floors, under cabinets, in closets or attics, and inside walls.
Mold can produce allergens, irritants, and in some cases toxins. Breathing or touching mold may cause an allergic reaction in some people and worsen breathing problems such as asthma. Children, women, and people with weak immune systems may be more sensitive to mold.
Common reactions to mold can be coughing, congestion, runny nose, burning eyes, headache, sneezing, and sore throat.
Indoor mold growth can be stopped by controlling indoor moisture. If mold in present indoors, the mold should be removed and the moisture problem fixed as soon as possible. If mold is remoevd without fixing the moisture problem, the mold will return.
In most cases, if the mold growth is small (less than 10 square feet) you can clean it yourself. It is important to remove mold by scrubbing with detergent and water, and then drying the area fully and quickly. If there is a lot of mold growth on certain porous materials like carpet, sheetrock, or insulation, it should be removed and replaced. You may want to talk with a professional if the area of growth is larger or if you have a health condition that can be worsened by mold.
Protect yourself when cleaning up mold by using:
n most cases, if you can see mold growing you do not need to do any sampling/testing. It can be costly. Results cannot be used to decide if a building has safe levels of mold or mold spores. The steps to clean up and stop mold growth are the same for all molds. Stopping mold growth is more important than knowing the type of mold. If a professional is hired to remediate indoor mold, sampling maybe helpful in determining whether the cleanup was successful.
The best way to find mold growth is by using your eyes to look for it and by using your nose to find the source of a moldy odor. If there is a damp, earthy or musty smell mold may be present. Other clues are signs of moisture or the worsening of allergies.
To prevent mold growth, homeowners and property owners should:
1. Remove standing water and dry out the builiding as soon as you can.
2. Throw away moldy things that can't be cleaned. When in doubt, throw it out!
3. Clean all moldy items that have hard surfaces.
NOTE: The following recommendations are from the Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals
1. Log onto www.lslbc.state.la.us/findcontractor.asp or call 1-866-310-7879 or 225-765-2301.
2. Contact the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors for Do's and Don'ts when hiring a contractor.
3. Check with your insurance agent for referrals and get contractor's business name and address.
4. Check the contractor's license number with the Louisiana Licensing Board for Contractors.
5. Contact the contractor's insurance company to confirm the contractor is insured.
6. Get a written estimate with start and compeletion dates.
7. Never pay more that 10% of the total estimate at the beginnning of the job.
According to the Louisiana Real Estate License Law and the Rules and Regulations of the Louisiana Real Estate Commission, real estate agents must disclose any known "large" defects or future defects in the property. When buying a home or property, it is important to ask about any current or previous defects in the property. According to Act 308 of the 2003 Legislative Session (R.S 9:3196-9:3199), a seller of residential property in Louisiana must provide a Propoerty Disclosure Statement, which should include information on previous or current mold problems.
For more information on mold related issues, including clean-up and moisture control, you may want to refer to the following agencies and organizations:
Pesticides are chemicals developed to repel, control or kill pests. Pests can be insects, weeds, fungi or rodents. There are more than 17,000 pesticide products used in the U.S.. Pesticides are widely used on agricultural crops, in the home, yard and public places. The types of pesticides commonly used are also called insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and rodenticides.
In addition to harming pests, many pesticides can also harm people. The harmful effect of a pesticide depends on the strength or toxicity of the chemical ingredients, the amount and the length of time of the pesticide exposure and the way it enters the body. Reading the label and following directions can prevent many pesticide-related illnesses.
People have different responses when exposed to pesticides. Depending on their basic health condition, age and individual characteristics, the responses of people can be very different. Small children, the elderly and people with health conditions may be affected more. How often and how long people come into contact with pesticides also affects their risk of developing problems from exposure.
Exposure occurs when you come into contact with a pesticide and it enters your body. A risk of exposure may be present if pesticides are nearby, but they must contact your body to harm you. There are three major ways for pesticides to enter the body. If a pesticide is in the air, it can be inhaled and may pass into the bloodstream. If it is in food or water, or if it is accidentally swallowed, it can enter through the stomach. Certain pesticides may pass through the skin. Some pesticides may irritate the skin, eyes, nose and throat if you come into direct contact with them.
Examples of Pesticide Exposure:
. First Aid Treatment:
Poison on Skin or Clothing - Remove clothes immediately and wash skin with running water for fifteen minutes.
Poison in Eyes - Rinse eyes with water for fifteen minutes.
Inhaled Poison - Leave the area and seek fresh air.
Swallowed Poison - Read label to determine if there is something you should do right away.
2. Call the Louisiana Poison Control Center 1-800-256-9822
The Center is staffed by trained professionals 24 hours a day. Center staff provide poison information and treatment recommendations related to pesticide exposure.
3. Seek medical help from your physician or hospital emergency room.
Bring with you:
- Labels of all pesticides to which you may have been exposed; and
- Records indicating what was sprayed from the person or company that sprayed.
Insecticides are used to control or kill insects.
Organophosphate and carbamate insecticides are the most common type of insecticide used on crops and in the home. Most pesticide poisonings result from exposure to organophosphate insecticides. Organophosphate and carbamate insecticides affect the nervous system of people. Exposure to toxic amounts can cause adverse effects ranging from shortness of breath, excessive salivation, nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness and chest discomfort to convulsions, paralysis and even death.
Examples of Organophosphates:
Examples of Carbamates:
Two other types of insecticides are pyrethrins/pyrethroids and organochlorines:
Pyrethrins/pyrethroids are not considered to be very toxic, although skin irritation and asthma have occurred following exposure.
Examples of Pyrethrins/Pyrethroids:
Organochlorine insecticides include DDT, chlordane, endosulfan and lindane. DDT and chlordane are no longer widely used because of their persistence in the environment and their toxicity to wildlife and humans. Organochlorines can accumulate in the body and remain for long periods of time. Short-term exposure can cause headache, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness and seizures. Long-term exposure to some organochlorines has been shown to alter reproductive development in animals.
Examples of Organochlorines:
Herbicides are used to kill weeds.
Exposure to toxic amounts of an herbicide can cause eye and skin irritation, coughing, burning of the throat and lungs, dizziness, nausea and temporary incoordination.
Examples of Herbicides:
Fungicides are used to control molds, fungi and mildew.
They are widely used in agriculture, industry, and the home and garden for a number of purposes: protection of seed grain, berries, flowers and grasses; and control of mildews and slime. Different fungicides vary in their potential for causing harm. The most common health effect is irritation to the skin, mouth and nose. Some of the more toxic fungicides can cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and loss of consciousness.
Examples of Fungicides:
Rodenticides are used to kill rats, mice and other rodents.
Exposure to toxic amounts of warfarin and other anticoagulant rodenticides can cause internal bleeding. Exposure to other rodenticides can cause difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting and unconsciousness. Typically, it is necessary to consume rodenticides by mouth in order to be harmed.
Examples of Rodenticides:
The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) regulates the manufacture, sale and application of pesticides. FIFRA requires registration and labeling of all pesticides, for either general or restricted use. Restricted use pesticides can only be applied in select situations and only by certified applicators.
FIFRA establishes minimum standards for pesticide regulation nationwide. In Louisiana, the Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) regulates pesticide use through FIFRA and the Louisiana Pesticide Law. Louisiana can pass laws that are more stringent than FIFRA, but may not weaken its provisions. For example, Louisiana schools are required to develop an Integrated Pest Management plan and maintain records of pesticides used on school property. Schools are encouraged to use the least toxic method of pest control.
Improper labeling, use or application of pesticides violates FIFRA, and can result in civil and/or criminal penalties. State agencies have been delegated the authority to prosecute FIFRA violations. Private individuals can sue for damages to person or property.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Worker Protection Standard (WPS) protects the health of workers and pesticide handlers (mixers, loaders and applicators) involved in the production of agricultural and forestry products.
WPS requires agricultural employers to exclude workers from areas being treated with a pesticide and areas under a restricted-entry interval (REI). List of pesticide treatments made on a field and applicable REIs must be posted in a central location. REIs are found on the pesticide label.
WPS also requires agricultural employers to provide the following:
LDAF regulates the spraying of pesticides from aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration regulates the operation of aircraft during aerial applications. Complaints regarding the operation of aircraft may be directed to the Federal Aviation District Office: (225) 358-6800.
If you believe you have suffered health effects from a pesticide exposure, file a Health-Related Pesticide Incident Complaint as soon as possible with LDAF. Complaints are investigated by LDAF and the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH). LDAF determines if a misapplication or violation has occurred, and DHH evaluates the health effects resulting from the pesticide exposure. A final report is provided to the complainant. To file a complaint, contact
LDAF's Pesticide Hotline: (225) 925-3763
If you believe a pesticide is being applied incorrectly, or wish to report violations of the Worker Protection Standard, contact LDAF.
Department of Agriculture and Forestry
Bob Odom, Commissioner
Office of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences
Pesticide & Environmental Programs
P.O. Box 3596
Baton Rouge, LA 70821-3596
24-hour Pesticide Hotline: (225) 925-3763
Department of Health and Hospitals
Office of Public Health
Section of Environmental Epidemiology & Toxicology
Toll-free Number: 1-888-293-7020
Louisiana Poison Control Center
Toll-free Number: 1-800-222-1222
National Pesticide Telecommunications Network (NPTN)
NPTN provides pesticide information to the public.
Toll-free Number: 1-800-858-7378
The Louisiana Pesticide Law regulates the use of pesticides in schools. The types of pesticides commonly used by schools include insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and rodenticides. The purpose of the law is to protect children and school staff from exposure to pesticides used in and around schools. The law encourages schools to use Integrated Pest Management (IPM).
IPM relies on information about the life cycle of pests and their interaction with the environment. “Pests seek habitats that provide basic needs such as air, moisture, food, and shelter. Pest populations can be prevented or controlled by creating inhospitable environments, by removing some basic elements pests need to survive or simply by blocking their access into buildings” (Environmental Protection Agency – EPA). The goal of IPM is to reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides by using non-chemical and least-toxic pest management methods.
Examples of IPM Strategies
· Eliminate pest habitats by keeping vegetation, shrubs, and mulch at least 1 foot away from structures;
· Prevent pest entry into buildings by installing or repairing screens and caulking and sealing openings in walls;
· Eliminate mold and fungi growth by keeping bathrooms as dry as possible;
· Practice sanitation by regularly emptying trashcans and properly cleaning up after eating.
The Louisiana Pesticide Law applies to all public and private elementary and secondary schools (K-12) in Louisiana.
The governing authority of each school shall prepare for each school under its authority an annual IPM plan. An IPM plan is a school’s plan of how it will prevent and control pest problems. IPM shall be available in the business office of each school for review by the general public.
For each pesticide that a school proposes to use, the following must be listed:
· Brand name & EPA # of the pesticide, type of pesticide (restricted or general use pesticide), pest to be controlled, and the type (e.g., crack and crevice, spot treatment) and location (e.g., gym, cafeteria) of each application.
· Other methods of pest control (e.g., cut grass, glue boards, traps).
· Name & certification # of certified commercial applicator(s).
Changes to an IPM plan require written notification to LDAF at least 24 hours prior to any pesticide application.
Records of inspections, pest identification, monitoring, evaluations, and all pesticide applications shall be maintained by the school. Copies of the pesticide application records from the previous year are to be submitted with the annual IPM plan each year by August 1 to LDAF.
All pesticide applications (e.g., spraying aerosols to kill wasps, applying granules to fire ant mounds, chemical weed control) must be done by certified applicators or trained persons working under the supervision of a certified applicator. Schools may either contract with pest control companies, or they may use school system employees who are appropriately certified.
Aerial applicators are not allowed to apply pesticides within 1000 feet of any school grounds during normal school hours.
Pesticides can only be applied inside school buildings when students are not expected to be present for at least 8 hours after the application.
Yes, all schools must maintain a Hypersensitive Registry. The registry shall contain the names of students whose parents have submitted a written statement to the school stating that their child is hypersensitive to pesticides.