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.

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot. That's what Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein tackles in her annual December column—"Billionaires Are Not the Answer"—about the state of journalism and our plans for the year ahead.

We can't afford to let independent reporting depend on the goodwill of the superrich: Please help Mother Jones build an alternative to oligarchy that is funded by and answerable to its readers. Please join us with a tax-deductible, year-end donation so we can keep going after the big stories without fear, favor, or false equivalency.

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot.

Please read our annual column about the state of journalism and Mother Jones' plans for the year ahead, and help us build an alternative to oligarchy by supporting our people-powered journalism with a year-end gift today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.