Concern about health risks posed by the BP oil spill disaster and the clean up effort is rising amid reports of illnesses among workers helping to clean up the oil spill and residents living along the Gulf Coast. Last week, eleven workers were hospitalized after complaining of nausea, dizziness, chest pain and headaches.
The government, concerned about public health in the gulf region, is taking steps to ensure that health issues are being addressed. According to Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services Secretary, the National Disaster Medical System has been activated to provide medical care to the five gulf states. Although the Environmental Protection Agency has tested more than 15,000 air samples in the area and has not detected any dangerous substances, they have also stated that, “There’s no way you can be working in that toxic soup without getting exposures.”
Determining the health risks can be difficult because of unknown factors, such as a lack of information relating to the makeup of the chemicals being used to disperse the oil and how it might affect the toxicity of the oil. Chemicals, such as Benzene, can cause cancer at high levels and in long exposures. Less severe symptoms caused by Benzene and other substances in the oil, include skin irritation, headaches, dizziness, nausea, burning eyes, breathing problems and neurological complications including memory problems, confusion and disorientation.
It’s been reported that worrisome substances that become airborne will dissipate before it reaches the shore, reducing the risk to residentsl however, it’s still unknown what will happen with the oil that is traveling underwater. The oil could pose a risk to human health by getting into the food chain.
If you have suffered a physical or financial injury as a result of the BP oil spill, please contact us immediately to discuss your legal rights.