Officials understating health risks in New Orleans, say eco-groups

Louisiana state and federal regulators are not doing enough to warn the public about the health risks in New Orleans, say public-health advocates and enviros. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council and state eco-groups, soil in many parts of the city is contaminated — sometimes heavily — with a wealth of toxins, including carcinogens. After conducting independent tests and reviewing government data, NRDC says it found substances like arsenic, lead, banned pesticides, and mercury wherever the city was flooded — with some of the most contaminated sites in the Lower Ninth Ward, just reopened to residents yesterday. Louisiana environmental officials and the U.S. EPA deny the allegations, saying that while NRDC’s data more or less matches up with state and federal testing, the group has interpreted the findings all wrong. And really, what New Orleans resident wouldn’t trust the state and federal government?