How Is the Oil Spill Putting Our Health at Risk?
Moms View Message Board: General Discussion: How Is the Oil Spill Putting Our Health at Risk?
As oil washes ashore from the devastating oil spill in the Gulf, many people are flocking to join locals in the cleanup effort. But you can’t help and wonder: How toxic is this crude oil? Are these good Samaritans at risk?
Two weeks ago, seven cleanup workers were hospitalized for dizziness, nausea, and headaches. Although they were later released, many people have begun to question whether their illnesses were triggered by the crude oil, the chemical disbursements, or just dehydration from the heat.
Dr. LuAnn White is Director of the Tulane Center for Applied Environmental Health (CAEPH) at Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. As a toxicologist and professor, she has become the region’s expert for this environmental disaster.
Crude oil has dangerous chemicals, like benzene and toluene, which can cause cancer in humans. Dr. White explains that brief contact with these chemicals is not considered harmful, but sustained or high doses can sicken someone rapidly.
White recently explained to the Los Angeles Times that oil changes over time. When the oil is first released, it floats up and sits on the water. The most toxic, volatile compounds in the oil evaporate as it sits on top of the water.
White defines the oil that is drifting to the beaches and wetlands as “weathered oil.” It loses most of its toxicity by the time it reaches the shore.
However, White’s explanation got me thinking: Does the oil retain its toxicity in the massive underwater plumes?
Jane Lubchencko, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has confirmed the existence of underwater oil plumes drifting in the Gulf. In fact, a plume has been found 3,300 feet deep and 40 miles northeast of the well.
I reached out to Dr. White and asked her: Do these harmful chemicals eventually break down in these deep underwater plumes? If so, do they break down at the same rate as it would on top of the water?
White confirmed they will break down, but at what rate is unknown. In fact, physical toxicity is more a concern to her than chemical toxicity. “The primary factor for toxicity is related to the oil coating birds, organisms, and animals,” says White. Such contamination could affect the supply chain and have a more profound effect on humans than chemical toxicity exposure would. “Undersea, we don’t know the effects of the oil on the various larvae and newly hatched fish, crabs, and other organisms,” admits White. “This issue is sure to be the focus of much research.”
Which leads me to some questions for you. Will you ever eat seafood from the Gulf again? Do you think we will be able to control the impacts of the oil spill from entering into our food supply?
I found this article at: http://www.everydayhealth.com/blogs/living-green/how-is-the-oil-spill-putting-our-health-at-risk?xid=nl_EverydayHealthWomensHealth_20100622
I was wondering about this just the other day. Lots of people have commented about the seafood from the gulf and if anyone should eat it now. I'm not sure what I think about this now. Could someone out there tell me what do you think?
My husband said if we stop using oil our ecomony would crash into the ground.
Our livelihood is based on this junk.
We can use other stuff. We are smart but our
economy is based on the dirt.