BP Oil Spill Wreaks Havoc on Public Health

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has already been deemed the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.  But the spill has also earned another title: a public health disaster.

As the oil continues to gush, its health hazards continue to wreak havoc on the health of Gulf residents and cleanup workers.    By the end of June, 162 oil-related illnesses had been reported to the Louisiana state health department.  128 of those cases involved workers on oil rigs or individuals involved in the oil spill cleanup efforts.  According to the department’s oil spill surveillance report, the most common symptoms reported were throat and eye irritation, shortness of breath, cough, nausea, chest pain, and headaches.  Many have also reported vomiting and additional respiratory problems.

The Plaquemines Medical Center, near Venice, Louisiana has treated dozens of patients who have gotten sick from spill-related chemical exposure.  The Director of the medical center, Michael Kotler states that the center handles those cases that the US Health Service and a private medical contractor employed by BP are not prepared to handle.

Fisherman David Arnesen’s wife recently told CNN about calls she received from her husband while he was on an overnight shrimp fishing expedition in the Gulf:

I received several calls from him saying, ‘This one’s hanging over the boat, throwing up.  This one says he’s dizzy, and he’s feeling faint.  Everybody’s loading up their stuff, tying up their rigs and going back to the docks.”

Even after his doctor diagnosed him with respiratory problems and prescribed medicines, Arnesen’s wife says he still doesn’t have the energy he used to have.  “Here we are over a month later and he’s still not completely well” she said.

Though the Center for Disease Control and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health are conducting studies on the health effects, their findings will not be released soon enough to help those who have already been exposed.    meanwhile, BP and some government officials delay efforts to put stronger medical care and preventative measures in place since there is “little hard science about the long-term health effects on spill workers”.

CNN’s Keith Olbermann recently reported that many workers who have been breathing in toxic fumes day after day have already landed in the hospital with chest pains, nausea, and headaches.   BP even threatened to fire workers who wear masks.  It’s shameful and outrageous.

For more on this issue, watch Keith Olbermann’s report and take action.

Though the spill has been capped off for now, clean up workers will still be exposed to the enormous amount of oil that has accumulated over the past 3 months as they work to clean up the damage.

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One Comment

  1. Posted July 19, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Great, the oil has stopped for now, however, Crude oil continues to invade the Gulf; as BP, the US Government, and other official agencies monitoring the toxic crude, continues to FIDDLE. That is what I called the Dance of Deliberate Deception. No one will come forward with the intestinal fortitude, and declare the obvious – that crude oil is toxic to breathe. I have been told by OSHA that a medical study cannot be conducted until after 6 months of exposure. WHAT? There have been 21 years since the exposure of the crude oil in Prince William Sound, and no one is listening. So, after 6 months of workers in the gulf breathe in the crude oil, a study can be conducted? That leads me to believe that the government is holding up the rug, while BP sweeps known reports under the same rug, and the other agencies conduct the Dance of Deliberate Deception on top of the rug.

    President Obama, how about admitting that the crude oil is toxic, and demand BP provide respirators for the oil cleanup workers, and compensation for the Gulf unemployment caused by the disaster.

    In 1989 Exxon told the cleanup workers the same story, that the crude oil is not toxic. Some of us are living proof of the toxic exposure, and many others have died. Please view the YouTube video, and help get the message to Gulf residents, BP crude oil cleanup workers, and President Obama. Respirators need to be supplied to oil cleanup crews.
    Thank you.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5M1J7U2GYA0

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