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Simcoe Muskoka health unit warns used sandbags could be contaminated

Sandbags efforts are shown in Bracebridge, Ont., April 29. The local health unit is now warning residents that used sandbags may be contaminated.
Sandbags efforts are shown in Bracebridge, Ont., April 29. The local health unit is now warning residents that used sandbags may be contaminated. Shallima Maharaj/Global News

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.

READ MORE: Some areas in Muskoka beginning recovery from floods

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.

READ MORE: Temiskaming Shores, Ont., declares state of emergency due to flooding

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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.

WATCH: Bracebridge, Ont. residents frantically sandbag as flood waters threaten homes, cottages

Click to play video 'Bracebridge, Ont. residents frantically sandbag  as flood waters threaten homes, cottages' Bracebridge, Ont. residents frantically sandbag as flood waters threaten homes, cottages
Bracebridge, Ont. residents frantically sandbag as flood waters threaten homes, cottages