This was a nebulous fear, though — who the hell really knows what exactly lives in there — and now the EPA is both calming and stoking fears with new post-Sandy test results. There is, of course, bad news here, but also some unexpected OK news, too.
Namely, that while "levels of bacteria" (see: tons of sewage) are high, the waters are actually pretty low in levels of gasoline and diesel, and virtually no "semi-volatile organic compounds" (the kind of unpronouncable chemicals that can find their way into the air) were detected at all. The storm may have even done a little good, as the high tides "flushed" the Gowanus full of fresh, less disgusting seawater, Brownstoner reports.
The bottom line here is really about safety during the clean-up process, and the official EPA report noted "the need for people to protect themselves when cleaning up flood waters that contain sewage and therefore bacteria." So, boots and rubber gloves. Always, when it comes to the Gowanus, boots and rubber gloves.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.