Health officials say floodwaters blamed for at least 25 deaths in Illinois and Missouri can carry hidden risks from the sewage and other noxious pollutants they contain.

Tens of millions of gallons of untreated sewage have spewed since last week into the Meramec River near St. Louis, and those plants remained offline Tuesday. That waste eventually has and will flow into the Mississippi River and south to the Gulf of Mexico.

But the floodwaters also could include such things as farm chemicals, as well as livestock waste, industrial chemicals, dead animals, gasoline and railroad toxins.

Even sandbags used as last-ditch defenses against floodwaters, pose a health risk because inundations turn them into mountains of smelly, polluted sacks that often are destined for landfills.

Michael B. Thomas, Getty Images
Michael B. Thomas, Getty Images

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