Professor Lidia Morawska says the possible health risks receding floodwaters from the January 2011 floods were reduced thanks to clean-up efforts.
The “mud army” which helped clean up Brisbane following last year’s devastating floods helped locals breath more easily than other cities affected by similar natural disasters.
An air quality study has found the rapid response of volunteers who helped clean up thousands of tonnes of mud, broken furniture and garbage had minimised residents’ exposure to public health risks.
Researchers from QUT’s International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health measured fine dust particles, mould and bacteria in 40 flood-affected homes over two rounds of testing last year.
Lead investigator Professor Lidia Morawska said health issues such as respiratory problems were associated with receded floodwaters.
However, the Keperra local said possible health risks from the January 2011 floods were reduced thanks to the efforts of Brisbane’s residents and volunteers.
“Because of the speed of cleaning and drying after the floods, the level of mould and dust was relatively low, much lower than in places such as New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina,” she said.
“Intense cleaning and drying of people’s belongings and homes was the key.”
The test results showed only slightly higher concentrations of dust particles and mould in flooded homes, compared to homes that weren’t flood affected.
The findings from the study, believed to be an Australian first, were presented at the tenth International Healthy Buildings Conference in Brisbane last month.