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Gulf Oil Spill: Human Health Effects Debated

Von: pautrey (rpautrey2@gmail.com) [Profil]
Datum: 07.06.2010 20:09
Message-ID: <cfb4c77f-af31-40c7-94c1-b04a15fe2ba3@c10g2000yqi.googlegroups.com>
Newsgroup: alt.health
Gulf oil spill: human health effects debated

June 4, 2010 |  5:09 pm

There is broad disagreement on the potential health hazards of the
spilled oil polluting the Gulf of Mexico and washing up onto its
shores. Some scientists predict medical problems among workers
involved in the cleanup and even the general public. Others expect
safety precautions ordered by the federal government to protect
cleanup workers and the public from harm.

One thing seems likely, though: The long-term health effects of this
disaster probably will be monitored in more detail than the 1989 Exxon
Valdez oil spill in Alaska and other previous spills, experts said

Concerns over the health effects of the spill grew this week as more
workers and residents of the coastal areas reported symptoms such as
headaches and problems breathing. So far, about 60 exposure-related
complaints have been filed with the Louisiana Department of Health and

In one of the more publicized incidents, late last week seven workers
performing skimming operations from boats were taken to hospitals due
to sudden illness. An investigation of that situation is underway, but
it appears the workers’ symptoms may have resulted from exposure to a
cleaning substance, said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of
labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“What OSHA is doing, along with other agencies, is monitoring
exposures on the beaches and on the boats to determine what sort of
protection workers should be receiving,” Michaels said. “At this point
we see no evidence of exposure that would require respirators.”

A mobile public health clinic opened Tuesday in the town of Venice to
serve those cleanup workers complaining of sickness. The clinic has
not yet been overrun, said Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.), who helped
establish the facility. “The volume of oil that has come in has not
been enough to cause problems,” he said.

The clinic will be available for any health need of the workers, not
just toxic exposures, Melancon added, but it also will be useful as a
way to monitor workers’ reactions to the oil. “If we have stations to
clean the birds, we ought to have stations to help humans,” he said.

There certainly is potential for hazard. Crude oil contains a brew of
substances dangerous to human health, including chemicals such as
benzene that are known to cause cancer in humans, and others that are
toxic to the brain and central nervous system, such as polycyclic
aromatic hydrocarbons.

“There is overwhelming evidence that many of the compounds found in
crude oil are dangerous,” said James Giordano, director of the Center
for Neurotechnology Studies at the Potomac Institute for Policy
Studies in Arlington, Va. “It will be important to have a regional and
national public health effort to assess the health impact.”

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