MISSOURI AND ILLINOIS (KFVS) - As residents in Illinois and Missouri recover from the rare and historic New Year Flood, health officials are warning about the hazards during the cleanup process.
In some cases, the floodwaters can carry hidden risks from the sewage and other noxious pollutants they contain.
Tens of millions of gallons of untreated sewage have spewed since last week into the Meramec River near St. Louis, and those plants remained offline Tuesday. That waste eventually has and will flow into the Mississippi River and south to the Gulf of Mexico.
But the floodwaters also could include such things as farm chemicals, as well as livestock waste, industrial chemicals, dead animals, gasoline and railroad toxins.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration also urges workers to remember that electrocution, drowning and chemical exposures are possible when they are conducting cleanup activities.
OSHA recommends employers provide advice, and distribute literature to assist in a safe clean-up of flood waters and damage from the from the recent multi-day winter storm that swamped the region.
"Our main concern is the safety and health of the workers and volunteers conducting cleanup activities," said Marcia Drumm, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City.
Click here for more information about how to keep disaster site workers safe during cleanup and recovery operations.