Toronto Public Health has provided the following information to address some of the concerns expressed by Toronto Island Residents.
Toronto Island residents and visitors should avoid contact with floodwater.
- Contact with floodwater should be avoided due to potential risk of waterborne illness such as E. coli and cryptosporidium. These diseases are caused by contact or consumption of contaminated water; they are not airborne.
- Vulnerable people including young children, older adults and individuals who are immunocompromised are at greater potential risk from waterborne illness. More information about these diseases can be found on the Toronto Public Health’s website here .
- Children and pets should be kept away from flooded areas until the areas are cleaned up.
- Skin infections can develop if open wounds are exposed to flood waters. It is important to cover open wounds with a waterproof bandage and, if the wound had come into contact with floodwater, wash well with soap and warm, clean water.
- Contact with floodwater should also be avoided due to potentially unsafe physical conditions. Water may be deeper or moving faster than it appears, or there may be unseen objects in the water that may cause injury.
- If you are expected to come into contact with floodwater during clean-up of affected areas, you should wear rubber boots and rubber gloves.
- If you have come into direct contact with floodwater, wash your hands and other body parts that may have come into contact with floodwater with soap and warm, clean water. Wash children’s hands frequently, and always before eating.
- Testing floodwaters is not a standard practice as testing will not provide additional information beyond the personal safety and health precaution advice provided. This includes avoiding contact with floodwaters, and wearing rubber boots and rubber gloves if contact is expected.
- Designated beaches will be monitored through TPH’s beach monitoring program between June and Labour Day. During this time we will be collecting water samples from all 11 Toronto beaches, if they are not damaged by floods and are good enough for use. We will be posting beaches that are not safe for use through signage, as well as on TPH web page (http://app.toronto.ca/tpha/beaches.html) and on the beaches hot line (416-392-7161).
If there have been power outages associated with the flooding, food safety can be an issue if food cannot be maintained at appropriate temperatures.
- If food has not been maintained at appropriate temperatures, bacteria such as Salmonella can build up in perishable foods and may cause gastrointestinal disease.
- Vulnerable people such as young children, older adults and individuals who are immunocompromised are at greater risk from foodborne illness.
- More information about power failures and food safety can be found in the following TPH fact sheet: http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=2e495ce6dfb31410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD
Mould can affect indoor air quality if water has entered people’s homes and other buildings.
- This is a concern due to mould growing on wet or damp household materials.
- Exposure to mould by breathing mould spores can cause eye, nose and throat irritation; increased asthma attacks; runny nose, sinus congestions; and allergic reactions.
- The elderly, pregnant women, infants and young children, people with allergies, chronic respiratory illness and/or chemical sensitivities and those with weakened immune systems are most likely to experience health effects from mould.
- TPH has a fact sheet on mould in the home, including clean-up: http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=f415d346c8391410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD
Standing water should be removed (where possible) from private property to reduce mosquito breeding and risk of West Nile virus.
- Standing water includes rain and floodwater accumulating in garden objects (e.g., tires, flowerpots), gutters and drains, and other containers.
- At present it is still early in mosquito season and we do not usually expect any infected mosquitos in Toronto until July or August. Surveillance for infected mosquitoes across Toronto will be begin in mid-June.
- Vulnerable people such as older adults and individuals who are immunocompromised are at greater risk from West Nile virus infection.
- More information about West Nile virus and tips on reducing standing water can be found on TPH’s website: http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=cf72ebfc2bb31410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD
Toronto Island residents should see their family physician if they have any specific health concerns, especially if they become injured or ill.
The following links also contain other general tips about staying healthy after a flood:
- Public Health Agency of Canada: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hp-ps/eph-esp/fs-fi-d-eng.php
- US Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/floods/cleanupwater.html
For the latest media release on the condition of the Island, check the City’s website here.