On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, wreaking destruction that still lingers. The Category 4 storm caused a humanitarian crisis that ultimately cost nearly 3,000 lives, and imperiled Puerto Rico's economy, universities and environmental health. Yet chemists there remained resilient and united in their resolve to recover from the devastating storm, according to this week's cover story in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society.
Maria was the strongest storm to hit the island in a century, with flooding and 155-mph winds causing billions of dollars in damage. But the situation was made more critical by the long-term loss of power and communications and the slow government response. In a series of three articles, C&EN describes how the hurricane impacted Puerto Rico's pharmaceutical industry, academic institutions, and water and air quality.
Hurricane Maria threatened to cripple Puerto Rico's drug manufacturing industry, which supplies the U.S. with more medications, on a dollar basis, than any other state or country. Big pharma firms managed to largely keep the drug supply chain steady. Likewise, Puerto Rican universities were hit hard, with many classrooms, research laboratories and expensive instruments destroyed by the storm. Faculty, staff and students were united in their resolve to restart their science, but they still face challenges getting back to normal. And finally, environmental researchers are studying how Maria may have threatened the long-term health of residents exposed to water and air that were tainted by hazardous pollutants and mold.
The article, "Puerto Rico se levanta," is freely available here.
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