How dangerous is the drinking water in New Orleans?

Louisiana – February 7, 2023

Although aqueous film forming foams (AFFF) is effective in extinguishing petroleum and jet fuel fires and is widely used in the oil industry surrounding Louisiana, it can be toxic to the collection of groundwater. Despite the decrease, or cessation of AFFF firefighting foam use, which has been banned in many states, and its phasing out of military use, the harmful effects and health risks remain due to previous high-level use and the inability of Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) chemicals to break down in the environment, or in an individual’s body.  Lawyers at Stag Liuzza can build a case to secure damage awards utilizing legal remedies against harmful illnesses when proven exposure from groundwater may be the cause.

Drinking water.

Several agencies work together to provide the people of New Orleans with drinking water. The Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (SWBNO) oversees treating and delivering the water to the city’s residents and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets maximum contaminant limits for over 100 different contaminants. The Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Equality work together to enforce Louisiana’s Source Water Assessment Program, which ensures that New Orleans meets the EPA’s regulations.

New Orleans gets its drinking water from the Mississippi River which is susceptible to toxins because it is at the end of the Mississippi River and collects contamination from industrial and agricultural runoff including pesticides in addition to mercury, bacteria, and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) making areas unsafe for fishing, swimming, and drinking.

Contaminants affecting New Orleans water quality include:

  • Microbial contaminants like viruses and bacteria that can leak from sewage treatment plants and septic systems,
  • Inorganic contaminants like salts and metals that can be naturally occurring or from stormwater runoff and industrial production,
  • Pesticides and herbicides from home use and agriculture,
  • Chemical contaminants from gas stations and petroleum production,
  • Radioactive contaminants from oil and gas production and mining activities.

Increased risk of cancer.

The five most common forms of cancer from Louisiana data sets reveals it as frequent for prostate, breast, lung, colon, and kidney. About one in three people are diagnosed with cancer at some time in their life, and about one in five dies of cancer. Most cancers develop slowly and can appear any time spanning 5 to 40 years after exposure to a carcinogen.  Individuals who believe there is a direct relationship between a cancer diagnosis and toxins in water sources may need assistance from experienced environmental lawyers.

Hire a lawyer.

Negligence may be proven to support a claim for illness related to toxic exposure when manufacturing plants, oil refineries, airports, and agricultural companies are remiss in their pre- and post-cleanup activities that may increase risks to drinking water supplies.  Attorneys at Stag Liuzza can review a case when illness has been documented and believed to be the result of AFFF exposure, or related PFAS exposure or other toxins from drinking water.


One Canal Place
365 Canal Street
Suite 2850
New Orleans, LA 70130

Ph: 504-593-9600
Fax: 504-593-9601


  1. New Orleans Water Quality Analysis | Cloud Water Filters
  2. Louisiana Cancer Data Visualization – Public Health (lsuhsc.edu)
  3. https://legis.la.gov/legis/Law.aspx?d=110567
  4. http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/Law.aspx?d=109387
  5. http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/Law.aspx?d=109371
  6. https://legis.la.gov/Legis/Law.aspx?d=87971
  7. http://legis.la.gov/Legis/Laws_Toc.aspx?folder=105&title=31
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