A Spatial Analysis of Possible Environmental Exposures in Recreational Areas Impacted by Hurricane Harvey Flooding, Harris County, Texas

  • Ibraheem Karaye
  • Kahler W. Stone
  • Gaston A. Casillas
  • Galen Newman
  • Jennifer A. HorneyEmail author


Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast in August 2017 causing catastrophic flooding. Harris County is highly vulnerable to flooding, which is controlled in part by a system of bayous that include parks and trails. The petrochemical industry, as well as thousands of documented sources of environmental pollution make recreational areas susceptible to environmental contamination during flood events. Recreational areas and toxic exposure sources were geocoded by subwatershed boundaries and overlaid with the area of Hurricane Harvey inundation. A total of 121 of 349 (36.78%) parks were flooded; 102 of 121 (84.30%) were located in subwatersheds with at least one exposure source. A total of 337 exposure sources (6 Superfund, 32 municipal solid waste, and 299 petroleum storage tanks) in 30 subwatersheds were flooded. Though parks provide flood mitigation and other postdisaster benefits, their susceptibility to environmental contamination should be considered, especially in areas with a large number of toxic exposure sources.


Hurricane Harvey Parks GIS Flooding Environmental exposure 


Author Contributions

IK designed the project; IK, GAC & KWS conducted the data analysis; JAH and GN obtained funding; JAH and KWS drafted the paper manuscript; all edited the paper manuscript.


Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number P42ES027704 and Award Number T32ES026568.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology and BiostatisticsTexas A&M School of Public HealthCollege StationUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health and Human PerformanceMiddle Tennessee State UniversityMurfreesboroUSA
  3. 3.Department of Veterinary Physiology & Pharmacology, Interdisciplinary Program in ToxicologyTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  4. 4.Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban PlanningTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  5. 5.Department of EpidemiologyUniversity of Delaware College of Health SciencesNewarkUSA

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