Environmental impacts of Hurricane Florence flooding in eastern North Carolina: temporal analysis of contaminant distribution and potential human health risks. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina in September 2018 causing extensive flooding. Several potential point sources of hazardous substances and Superfund sites sustained water damage and contaminants may have been released into the environment. OBJECTIVE: This study conducted temporal analysis of contaminant distribution and potential human health risks from Hurricane Florence-associated flooding. METHODS: Soil samples were collected from 12 sites across four counties in North Carolina in September 2018, January and May 2019. Chemical analyses were performed for organics by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Metals were analyzed using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Hazard index and cancer risk were calculated using EPA Regional Screening Level Soil Screening Levels for residential soils. RESULTS: PAH and metals detected downstream from the coal ash storage pond that leaked were detected and were indicative of a pyrogenic source of contamination. PAH at these sites were of human health concern because cancer risk values exceeded 110-6 threshold. Other contaminants measured across sampling sites, or corresponding hazard index and cancer risk, did not exhibit spatial or temporal differences or were of concern. SIGNIFICANCE: This work shows the importance of rapid exposure assessment following natural disasters. It also establishes baseline levels of contaminants for future comparisons.

published proceedings

  • J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol

altmetric score

  • 2.6

author list (cited authors)

  • Aly, N. A., Casillas, G., Luo, Y., McDonald, T. J., Wade, T. L., Zhu, R., ... Rusyn, I.

citation count

  • 14

complete list of authors

  • Aly, Noor A||Casillas, Gaston||Luo, Yu-Syuan||McDonald, Thomas J||Wade, Terry L||Zhu, Rui||Newman, Galen||Lloyd, Dillon||Wright, Fred A||Chiu, Weihsueh A||Rusyn, Ivan

publication date

  • September 2021