The thousands of sandbags used to protect properties against flooding in Muskoka could be contaminated.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) said the bags have been in contact with the water and everything in it. Fuel products, hazardous chemicals, salt, sewage or septic waste are just some of the contaminants the health unit listed.

Sandbags should be treated as municipal waste and exactly how to dispose of them will vary between municipalities. Anyone moving the bags should wear protective gear to eliminate exposure to any hazards and make sure they wash up afterwards.

The SMDHU said the sand should never be reused, especially in children’s sandboxes, playgrounds or for landscaping. The unit added the sand shouldn’t be disposed of in waterways.

Anyone looking for more information on how to properly throw out their sandbags should speak to their municipality or visit the SMDHU website.