Baylor College of Medicine uses wristbands to detect hazardous chemicals leftover from Hurricane Harvey

HOUSTON— A year later and recovery from Hurricane Harvey is still ongoing, and so are the questions about possible health effects from exposure to contaminated flood water and airborne health hazards, such as mold.

Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine, UT Health and Oregon State University have been awarded three grants from the National Institutes of Health to continue working to identify what dangers might have been in the flood waters, and new participants are needed as well as those who have already taken part in the study.

Baylor is currently beginning the second round of a study using wristbands to detect chemicals from air and water exposure, as well as collecting biosamples to detect bacteria and mold. The first round took place around this time last year, just days after recovery efforts began after Harvey hit.

The wristbands can detect volatile and semi-volatile chemicals directly from air and water. After seven days, researchers will collect the wristbands for measurement of chemical exposures. Biosamples, which can detect some exposures the wristbands cannot, and health questionnaires will also be collected from participants. The information gathered will be used to assess the possible health impact of chemical and environmental exposures.

“It is important to know what hazards we face in these types of natural disasters and how we can better prepare and respond next time it happens,” said Melissa Bondy, professor of medicine- epidemiology and population sciences. “We also want to understand long-term health effects as a result of flood waters.”

For more information, contact the Harvey Study or Georgina Armstrong at (713) 798-2951.