Althought is it not often thought about in the aftermath of a disaster, the debris often contains hazardous materials. This article describes what is likely to be found: Environmental hazards remain after Joplin tornado; Associated Press, May 31.
As residents confront a gigantic cleanup following the tornado that savaged Joplin, experts say environmental dangers could lurk amid the mountains of debris in the southwestern Missouri city and even in the water and air.
Damage from tornadoes, like floods and hurricanes, often goes beyond what is readily visible. Liquid fuels and chemicals can leak from ruptured containers and contaminate groundwater. Ruined buildings may contain asbestos. Fires can generate smoke containing soot, dioxins and other pollutants. Household, industrial and medical wastes are strewn about.
- Environmental Danger Lurks in Joplin, Mo. Debris (abcnews.go.com)