The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is warning residents that used sandbags could be contaminated with bacteria and other pollutants that could be harmful to human health and the environment.
According to the health unit, sandbags may be contaminated with oil-based or fuel products, hazardous chemicals, salt, sewage or septic waste.
Thousands of sandbags were used to protect homes and businesses during the flooding across Muskoka and North Simcoe.
Once floodwaters decline, the health unit says sandbags should be considered contaminated because they’ve had contact with everything that was in the water.
According to the health unit, sandbags should be treated as municipal waste and people should wear appropriate protection when dealing with sandbags to reduce their exposure to bacteria.
People should also wash their hands after touching sandbags, the health unit says, and shouldn’t reuse the sand in areas where it may come in contact with people.
Residents should also not dispose of sand in wetland or shoreline areas, the health unit adds.