Lourdes Salvador's Column
...Co-founder of MCS America discusses the latest Multiple Chemical Sensitivity issues.
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Gulf Oil Spill Syndrome is on the Horizon
by Lourdes Salvador
On April 20, 2010, The Deepwater Horizon, a 9-year-old semi-submersible Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU) leased to BP, exploded while drilling an exploratory well 5,000 feet below the surface. An internal BP document released in June revealed that as much as 100,000 barrels (4,200,000 US gallons) per day have been flowing into the ocean.
The health effects of the spill have yet to be ascertained. Cleanup workers are of most concern while they use chemical dispersants, burn the oil at sea, and skim it from vessels.
But the oil is also inescapable to the people of the Gulf Coast. Residents report smelling it and tar balls have begun washing up on beaches in Florida in what has been labeled as the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
Health Effects of the Gulf Oil Spill
Within days of beginning the clean-up, workers were reporting flu-like symptoms which BP quickly cast off as "food poisoning" since the workers were all eating the same food. However, food poisoning only lasts a day or so and the reports of ill health continue to come in not only from workers, but also from residents on the shoreline.
The Louisiana Department of Health identified 108 workers who have reported ailments believed to be the direct result of oil and/or dispersant chemicals.
Now, some of the health effects have been cast off as the effects of working in the heat in hazardous materials (hazmat) suits.
But again, residents on the shoreline who are not involved in the cleanup or suffering from heat exhaustion have reported similar symptoms as the oil and chemical dispersants reach shore.
Thus far, the health problems have involved respiratory disorders, irritated throats, nausea, dizziness, chest pains, and headaches. Approximately a dozen workers have been hospitalized. The long-term effects have yet to be seen.
Chemicals of Concern
"Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPH) is a term used to describe a broad family of several hundred chemical compounds that originally come from crude oil," according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. "Some of the TPH compounds, particularly the smaller compounds such as benzene, toluene, and xylene (which are present in gasoline), can affect the human central nervous system. If exposures are high enough, death can occur. Breathing toluene at concentrations greater than 100 parts per million (100 ppm) for more than several hours can cause fatigue, headache, nausea, and drowsiness. When exposure is stopped, the symptoms will go away. However, if someone is exposed for a long time, permanent damage to the central nervous system can occur."
Throughout history we´ve seen a pattern of denying the health effects and permanent damage to the central nervous system from toxic chemical injury. Instead, the effects are often blamed on unproven mental illness.
Gulf War syndrome (GWS), a multi-system illness which affected Gulf War Veterans after their exosure to toxic vaccines, burning oil wells, and Sarin nerve gas / antidotes, was initially claimed to be post traumatic stress disorder by authorities.
Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), a multi-system illness which affects civilians as a result of chronic or acute chemical and vaccine exposure was initially spun by industry interests as a "fear" or "conditioned response".
Ground zero workers who suffered multi-system illnesses as a result of exposure to the toxic dust after the 9/11 attacks have also been accused of post traumatic stress.
The Gulf oil spill will likely lead to a new condition known as Gulf Oil Syndrome (GOS), a syndrome of toxicity related to 911, GWS, and MCS, which will initially be denied and labeled as psychiatric to protect the financial interests of responsible parties.
The future of America is in our collective hands. It is crucial that industrial financial gain must not be permitted to compromise the health and well being of workers and citizens.
We must stop clinging to the antiquated view that science does not a grasp of these toxic chemical injuries. Sufficient clear and present evidence is currently available to show that toxic chemical injuries are real and disabling. We must justify, even demand, immediate action.
We must not dismiss our hard working Gulf oil spill workers, deny them appropriate health care, or fail to compensate them for their injuries. We have our lives and health to thank them for as they work tirelessly to clean up the BP spill.
For more articles on this topic, see: MCSA News.
Copyrighted 2010 Lourdes Salvador & MCS America