Are BP’s Dispersants Making People Sick?


Anecdotal reports are beginning to emerge that the chemical dispersants that BP is using to break up crude oil in the gulf are making clean-up workers sick. Pro Publica’s Marian Wang (a former of Mojo intern) has been following the story, and points to reports in the LA Times and New Orleans TV station WDSU. Of course, drawing a direct link between the dispersants and the sicknesses will be tough.

It’s worth noting that workers who cleaned up the Exxon Valdez spill also reported health problems, which scientists suspected were tied to exposure to the polyaromatic hydrocarbons and other substances found in crude oil. These same PAHs are also a suspected cause of health problems in communities around Canada’s tar sands.

UPDATE: Due to concerns about the health of clean-up workers, the Coast Guard and BP have recalled all 125 private vessels that were helping to contain the spill around Louisiana’s Breton Sound. Medical experts are being dispatched to evaluate them. While it’s good to know that BP and the government are taking occupational hazards seriously, one has to wonder who, if anyone, is now cleaning up the oil.

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