Hurricane experience benefits later industrial fire research response

(Photo courtesy of Aneese /

GC-CPEH Members reported that lessons from Hurricane Harvey accelerated and improved research response after an industrial fire in Deer Park, TX.

In 2017, Hurricane Harvey affected more than 30,000 Texas residents and destroyed more than 200,000 homes. Following that experience, the Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (SWCOEH) teamed up with community, academic, and government partners to create a location-specific disaster research response (DR2) toolkit. These experiences are described in a paper published March 16 by Elaine Symanski, Ph.D., and her collaborators. The new paper highlights DR2 work assessing allergic symptoms and stress, as well as safety training and distribution of personal protection kits, in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey

Authors of the March 16 paper said teams of researchers rapidly trained and deployed student volunteers to monitor black carbon, particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds while the fire yet burned.

Photo courtesy of Inkyu Han

“Our experience illustrates the potential positive impact of a coordinated and collaborative response to the environmental consequences of disasters, and how one experience informs capacity among all partners in future DR2 responses,” said, Dr. Symanksi, a GC-CPEH Deputy Director. Read the full story in the NIEHS Environmental Factor published in May 2021: