As the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that began on April 20 continues to drag on with no end in sight, the number of people experiencing health problems continues to grow. Compounding the catastrophe is the fact that the oil is not alone in posing dangers to oil spill workers.
The dispersants and other chemicals BP used to mitigate the harmful effects of the oil also pose dangers to the workers. BP has been using chemical dispersants to break apart the oil in order to prevent it from reaching land. Intellectual property law protects the dispersants’ chemical make-up, but sources indicate that it contains a chemical used in the Exxon spill. Scientists have linked the chemical to respiratory and nervous system problems, and liver, kidney, and blood disorders. If oil or chemical dispersants from the BP spill have injured you, an Orlando personal injury attorney can advise you of your legal options.
More and more of the 37,000 oil spill workers have begun to complain about exposure to the toxins. They have gone to hospitals complaining of irritated throats, nausea, chest pains, and headaches. Two crewmembers working just south of Louisiana went to the hospital after breathing in fumes from where BP was performing oil burns that burn off excess oil. They also believed they had inhaled chemical dispersant.
Health Tips Relating to the Oil Spill
- The type of oil involved in the spill is medium sweet crude, which experts consider less dangerous than other oil types. Medium sweet crude oil contains fewer toxic sulfur compounds and chemicals. This makes it less likely to harm those briefly exposed to the oil but it is still toxic and dangerous for those constantly working around it.
- Those whose skin has come into contact with oil should stay out of the sun. Crude oil can cause skin to swell and burn and exposure to the sun magnifies these harmful effects and renders certain substances in the oil more toxic. Helpful products to remove oil from the skin include soap and water, baby oil, petroleum jelly, or a cleaning compound found at auto parts stores. Do not use any solvents like gasoline or diesel fuel.
- Children and those with liver disease should pay particular attention to the advice listed here. Children are more sensitive to pollution in general. The liver plays an important role in filtering out toxins that enter the body. For those with liver disease, their livers do this job worse than normal-functioning ones. If exposed to oil and contaminants, even in small amounts, their bodies are less able to process the toxins.