A team from the Texas Institute for Applied Environmental Research (TIAER) at Tarleton State University has been working to gauge the environmental impact of Tropical Storm Imelda, which hammered the Houston area in mid-September.

The storm dropped as much as 40 inches of rain on the Texas Gulf Coast, causing relentless flooding and spawning a few scattered tornadoes.

TIAER stepped forward to measure hydrocarbon and bacterial contamination in flooded coastal communities. It stands ready to assist all state agencies responsible for protecting the health of Texans and the natural environment.

“Floods like those created by Hurricane Harvey and Tropical Storm Imelda mobilize and redistribute toxic chemical and biological contaminants,” said Dr. Quenton Dokken, TIAER’s executive director. “These toxins collect in soils and plant tissues, rivers and lakes, and in coastal wetlands, bays and estuaries.

He emphasized that Imelda and similar storms are health threats to humans and animals in the flood zone. “The flood waters of Imelda are not the first to impact the coastal areas of Texas and will definitely not be the last. It is imperative that we understand the health threats these waters pose.

 “First responders, people and animals living in flood zones are in danger. We are in the field sampling the flood waters for chemical and biological toxins.”

The Texas Legislature created TIAER in 1991 to address water quality along the North Bosque River. Data collected from the river’s watershed continues to play a vital role in developing water-quality models and testing throughout the nation and around the world. Today, TIAER’s research includes projects in 35 U.S. states and Canada as well as partnerships with such countries as China, Ecuador, Ethiopia and New Zealand.