Facing South

BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

Facing South
Facing South
Appreciate this post? Please donate & share below.
Reddit »

Today marks nine months since the BP Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig exploded, killing 11 workers and sending millions of gallons of crude oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico.

Though the gushing well was capped last July, oil continues to wash ashore along the Gulf Coast. BP's oil is also washing up in people's bodies, raising concerns about long-term health effects.

This month the Louisiana Environmental Action Network released the results of tests performed on blood samples collected from Gulf residents. Whole blood samples were collected from 12 people between the ages of 10 and 66 in September, November and December and analyzed by a professional lab in Georgia, with the findings interpreted by environmental chemist and LEAN technical adviser Wilma Subra.

The individuals tested were two boys ages 10 and 11, four men and six women. They included cleanup workers on Orange Beach, Ala., crabbers from the Biloxi, Miss. area  and people living on Perdido Key, Ala.

Four of the people tested -- including three adults and the 10-year-old -- showed unusually high levels of benzene, a particularly toxic component of crude oil. Subra compared the levels found in the test subjects to the levels found in subjects in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a research program conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Specifically, Subra compared the benzene levels in the Gulf residents to the NHANES 95th percentile value -- that is, the score below which 95 percent of the NHANES subjected tested. In other words, she compared the benzene levels found in Gulf residents to some of the highest levels found in the general population.

That comparison shows cause for concern, as the benzene levels in the blood of four Gulf residents ranged between 11.9 and 35.8 times higher than the NHANES 95th percentile value of 0.26 parts per billion. Benzene is known to cause a host of health problems including anemia, irregular menstrual periods, ovarian shrinkage and leukemia.

The Gulf residents with the highest levels of benzene in their blood included a family of crabbers -- a 46-year-old man and woman and a 10-year-old boy -- and a 51-year-old woman crabber, all from the Biloxi area.

Ethylbenzene was detected in all 12 blood samples from Gulf residents over the NHANES 95th percentile value of 0.11 ppb, with some individuals testing over three times that concentration. Ethylbenzene is known to cause dizziness, damage to the inner ear and hearing, and kidney damage, and it's also thought to cause cancer.

Eleven of the 12 individuals tested had relatively high concentrations of xylenes, with some of them testing up to 3.8 times higher than the NHANES 95th percentile value of 0.34 ppb. Xylene exposure can lead to headaches, dizziness, confusion, skin irritation, respiratory problems, memory difficulties and changes to the liver and kidneys. The blood test results also found high levels of other toxic petrochemicals including 2-methylpentane, 3-methylpentane and isooctane.

The two boys showed some of the highest blood concentrations of the chemicals, and the 10-year-old boy from the Biloxi area suffered severe respiratory problems as a result. His mother, the crabber, also had some of the highest concentrations of the chemicals in her blood.

Earlier this month, residents from across the Gulf called on members of the President's oil spill commission -- which recently released its final report on the disaster -- to address the region's growing health crisis. One of them was Cherri Foytlin, co-founder of the grassroots group Gulf Change, who recently learned her own blood has alarming levels of ethylbenzene.

"Today I'm talking to you about my life," she told the commission. "My ethylbenzene levels are 2.5 times the [NHANES] 95th percentile, and there's a very good chance now that I won't get to see my grandbabies."

Foytlin reported seeing children from the region with lesions all over their bodies. "We are very, very ill," she said. Meanwhile, doctors in the region are treating patients with high levels of toxic petrochemicals in their bodies -- even in people who do not live right on the coast and were not involved in the cleanup.

Commission member Frances Beinecke, chair of the Natural Resources Defense Council, pledged to take the health concerns back to the White House. But nine months since the disaster began unfolding, Gulf residents are still waiting for the government to address the ongoing environmental health crisis.

0
Your rating: None

Tags:

Comments

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

benzene is in almost house in US-- it is measured in % not parts per million or billion in gasoline. So if you pump it yourself or even worse use gas and a solvent to clean grease and grim from your hands use will have benzene zipping into your body.

Benzene is a carcinogen no doubt but like asbestos in the attics for insulation there is just so much of it around I don't think it will gain traction as an issue.

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

JoJo must work for BP...and/or did not even read the whole article...the "children with lesions" parts etc...you think children clean stuff with toxic chemicals eh? Maybe they are rolling around in household products or insulation to the point of doubling the expected levels of this garbage? If it wasn't such a sad thing I would laugh loudly at your stupidity and lack of reading comprehension skills.

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

That 10 and 11 year old probably don't pump gas or use solvent to clean grease, but I could be wrong maybe that's what they teach in school now? I would pack up and move this can't be good for anyone.

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

Still, it's probably best not to be overexposed to benzene...

If it were harmless we'd all be brushing our teeth with it.

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

Nice try . . but you should stick to trying to discuss things that you know something about . .

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

Recipe: Triple Chocolate Deepwater Cake

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
16 ounces fudge icing
3 ounces fished-shaped chocolate bonbons
3 ounces fished-shaped benzene
3 ounces fished-shaped ethylbenzene
26368000000 ounces tar balls, shaped like fish

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

4 out of 12 people? Can you say 'insufficient sample size'? How about 'Andrew Wakefield'?

Of course, the results were "[...] interpreted by environmental chemist and LEAN technical adviser Wilma Subra."

Nothing like an uninterested opinion.

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

Benzene is found at a concentration of 4 parts per billion in the air along highways.

What was the concentration in their blood 12 months ago ?

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

Benzene is found at a concentration of 4 parts per billion in the air along highways.

What was the concentration in their blood 12 months ago ?

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

One cannot assign the BP oil spill as a casative factor unless blood was tested in these same individuals before and after their spill. As jojo noted, benzene exposure is offered by many industrial sources.

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

JoJo, if it's anything like asbestos it certainly will gain traction as an issue. Attorneys will see to that.

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

Let me test my understanding of your argument here.

The problem is really big, so we should do nothing?

The stuff got everywhere, and the health care will cost so much to treat these victims that we shouldn't try to stick those responsible with the bill?

It's that sort of apathy that leads companies like BP to believe they can get away with anything. Even a holocaust.

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

I don't think you understand percentiles. That already takes in to account how prevalent benzene is in the normal environment. This study is showing that these people have concentrations of it massively higher than their contemporaries that are not living in the Gulf region, and thus weren't exposed to the spill's aftereffects.

95% of the population has at most 0.26 parts per billion of benzene in their bodies. These people registered 11.9 to 35.8 times higher than 95% of the population. That's basically off the charts.

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

wow jojo did you not read that these people have a lot higher then the average amount of benzene in their blood not just what we get from general daily exposure. and who the hell uses gasoline to clean grim off their hands anymore anyways. we have so much quicker and safer ways of removing gunk besides the fact most people don't know what grease and grime is anymore besides mechanics (who are more then likely to use hand cleaners instead of Gasoline)

now this gaining any movement i can agree but not because its common, but because it would cost something to look at and that money could be better spent on an overpriced toilet seat for some third world countries dignitaries private room at some overprice hotel because, Hey, We can print more..

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

Jojo: spoken like a parent without a kid covered in lesions.

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

wrong jojo.. the correct measure of benzene in the environment is always expressed as ppm.. and shame on intelligent people everywhere if the fact that these people have extremely elevated levels doesn't "gain traction" as you put it. Your little anecdotes have absolutely nothing to do with this study-- stop making excuses for big oil

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

The president of British Petroleum, ladies and gentlemen. So, Satan, how does it feel to have all the money in the world and stick it in your ears and go THPPPBBBT ?

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

Benzene is a risk factor for leukemia and lymphoma. The real problem is that benzene is probably just the tip of the iceberg. We probably wont see the full health effects for years.

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

jojo gets paid by BP to find and discredit any negative press....looks like you're doing a good job...first to comment!

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

Two points:
After the Amoco Cadiz wreck on the coast of Brittany, the French authorities banned the catching and consumption of shellfish and crabs for quite a long time, whereas it's not clear to me that the US federal government got past stern advice to an actively-enforced ban of any duration. Does anybody know how hard they tried to stop people eating shellfish?

When the Amoco Cadiz oil started to wash up on the Channel Islands, especially Herm, the given wisdom was to clean it off the skin with lighter fluid rather than petrol (ie: leaded gasoline at the time.) But the shops ran out of lighter fluid and fresh supplies of anything take a week or two to arrive on the islands. Petrol got used, and assorted skin complaints followed promptly. Unleaded gas has other organic additives in, so is probably no healthier.

Great care was taken in the Gulf to clean seabirds with safe detergents and so forth: does anyone recall any sensible safety advice about how to clean people? There need to be adequate supplies of safe people-cleaning agents available after oil spills. And stricter advice.

Petrol (gasoline) does seem to be more toxic than something like white spirit (turpentine substitute) but neither is really a healthy body wash.

Gasoline is a fuel, not a solvent. It is a mixture of many different volatile organic compounds, whereas most solvents consist of one, pretty pure, compound. It is far harder to predict the health effects of a complicated mixture than a simple compound.

I've found that I can get roofing tar (a similar problem to crude oil) off skin by first wiping with dry tissue as far as possible, then applying vaseline intensive care cream, which is a sort of emulsion of petroleum jelly and water. This sort of breaks the tar or oil away from the skin, and it will then succumb to soap and water.

The alternative, using white spirit to dissolve the tar or oil, very obviously liberates any toxins in the tar or oil and helps them penetrate the skin. Gasoline/Petrol does the same, as well as donating a whole raft of toxins in its own right.

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

Hello BP,

% (actually in 0.%) is measured in fluids not in your blood! And these fluids are considered health hazards. And yes you get some benzene in your blood from different sources, but...

Read carefully, some residents had 35 times more benzene in their blood than basically top 5% of americans. And you say it's ok?

Read http://russell.heilling.net/networking-resources/what-is-95th-percentile
and
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benzene

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

Is their exposure from drinking water? swimming,? Rain? Fish? - or - just living near the gulf?

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

Wow. So, jojo - I guess we should all just start drinking benzene since there's already so much of it around? Do you think we are idiots? Are we going to give BP a free pass for literally killing more people via the poison they spilled into the gulf for months than they did by blowing up their oil platform through sheer incompetence?

Look what happened with the 9/11 first responders. I'm guessing because BP and republicans will try to sweep this under the rug for as long as they can, it won't gain traction until a lot of people start dying from the effects. Apparently that's what it takes for our society to do the right things these days - people dying.

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

Subra and all the others trying to make a buck off of the accident.

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

Where are the test results? Let's see the evidence instead of them saying they were high. The tests can be manipulated anyway so what difference does it make. Let's see the pictures of the kids covered in lesions. We have many hospitals and doctors for a reason, people are sick or are getting sick ALL the time.

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

It's from wanting attention and some money. Riki Ott is trying to sell books and Subra is trying to make money.

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

Jojo has become mysteriously silent on the subject. *eye roll*

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

WE DO NOT need gossip or speculation. WE DO NEED FACTS! I am a clean up worker.I have worked on the beach-since JUNE 2010. I still work on the beach..I have had symptoms..and I have asked-and been told repeatly-IT WILL NOT HURT YOU.WHERE do u go to have a blood test for the chemicals used in this Gulf coast clean up? NO INFO available!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!...Doctors laugh when asked!! MAKE THE BLOOD TESTING MANDATORY>>>for before and after levels in OUR blood! I WANT TO KNOW THE TRUTH!

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

BP leaked a half a millon pounds of Benzene and other chemicals in Texas City last year. Where are the articles on this? ridiculous. Just ridiculous!

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

if you write riki ott, she will send you a book for free or a pallet of books for an institution for free. this lady is not a money grubber, she does it for public safety. there are so many ignorant people who post because they just don't want to believe there is a problem in the gulf. i live here, and there is definitely a problem.

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

Decades.

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

there is no "Perdido Key, AL." And don't even try it, I live here.....

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

It is easy to get carried away. Current methods of analysis are so sensitive that parts per billion can be measured, sometimes less. Almost any poison you care to name can be found in some concentration in the body, if your analysis is sensitive enough. Remember, one part per billion is 1 gram per 1000 tons, or about 20 drops of benzene in an olympic swimming pool. If you spilled some gas over your hand the last time you filled up your car you would have far more in your blood. The detectable limits are far below dangerous limits for most chemicals. I'm not saying we shouldn't 'try to minimize exposure but we shouldn't panic too easily either. As Paracelsus said, the amount makes the venom. It is possible to die of water poisoning, or of kitschen salt poisoning. That is not a reason not to put salt on your fries.

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

Why are the reports of the same people over and over? Surely more than 12 people could volunteer to have their blood tested. I live here. How about mine?

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

Perdido Key is a "barrier island located in extreme northwest Florida and southeast Alabama," according to Wikipedia.

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

Benzene is toxic and dangerous but there are other things like H2S that should checked out.
This is just the start of this mess. The Residents have been hood winked.
This story is just going to get worst as time passes.
The public has never been told the truth about how much of that crude is on the bottom in the gulf.
As time passes it will separate and seek different levels..
The oil people knew how high the risk was, they just don't give a dam.
Money is the bottom line.
I have worked for all of them, People are expendable in this game.. Just look at what they have left behind World Wide.
A War zone is easy to restore compared to what they leave.
Just about every refinery in the US is in the poor part of some city.
They should check out the health records around them.

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

So what I'm hearing you say is that because there's so much of it around that we should just live with it (or die with it, as the case will be)? You are kidding, right?

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

the sodium and cloride mixed with the ammonia which was a byproduct of the oil breakdown creating pausegene gas this combined with the benzine gas and was activated by the cyinide in the dispersant which created mustard gas i lost a lung to it and the pathology report said necrotic (no living tissue)with acid fast bacilli with no fumgi ruled out all desease including tb and leparcy now the fibrocic of the liver is stage 3 no malignacy and because im going on social security i have to wait 2 years for medicare and they cancelled my medicaid and ssi is cancelled so now i have no medical coverage for the 3000 in medication i need a month bp and workers comp has not paid a dime nor has the gccf and this is americas new health system cut em off and let them die

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

So ... as a resident of Navarre, Florida who has suffered with what I considered "allergies" for the last few months I may be considering a move.
What's really sad is that NW Florida is home to Pensacola Naval Air Station, Eglin Air Force Base (that also trains Army Rangers) and Hurlburt Field Air Force Base (home of the Special Ops and all those lovely C-130 Hercules airplanes you see in the Michael Bay movies). Oh yeah, and of course the Coast Guard located in Destin, FL. Maybe while BP is at it they should poison some Marines.

re: BP's spilled oil is washing up in people

If anyone has ever studied evolution and ecology will understand that man only came about due to the living conditions above the Earths crust being just right and delicately balanced. Man is now drilling through and bringing to the surface a solution of toxic chemicals that is slowly, although now it seems to be accelerating, damaging that finely balanced living area. I know that alot of these chemicals are around us all the time but in minute quantities but around that spill they werent at nice levels at all. To see children with unnatural liasons on their skin is a clear natural indicator that the mixture of toxic detergents and crude oil WERE harmful. Man is quick enough to do and create so many unnatural things but not quick enough to create an antidote to the illnesses that he has created. My heart goes out to all the innocent people young and old who have unknowingly been subjected to the rubbish in the air theyve breathed in and hope their health recovers fully. BP are okay lavishing in their rich profits i wonder if one day whether it really will dawn on them just how they are destroying us at the expense of their ignorance.