[links in on-line article]
Deepwater Horizon Continues to Impact Public Health
Wednesday, 26 October 2016 09:20 By s.e. smith, Care2 | Report
It's hard to believe that the Deepwater Horizon incident, which
discharged over 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico,
happened six years ago. What's not hard to believe is that the
environmental health implications of the spill are stubbornly lingering.
Gulf residents of variety of species are paying a high price for it --
so high that litigation against BP for its role in the spill, officially
deemed "negligent," is likely to continue for decades as people fight to
get help with ongoing medical expenses.
Last year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced
that the spill was linked to an uptick in dolphin deaths, illustrating
that this unprecedented release of petroleum products in the Gulf had a
lasting health impact for animals.
Similarly, abnormalities in heart development among fish have also been
connected to Deepwater Horizon exposure. Part of the problem is that
sediments remain coated in oil and sludge. Because it was impossible to
clean up every drop of crude from the Gulf, the oil that settled to the
bottom continues to interfere with the embryonic development of a range
of fish species.
But humans aren't doing too well either.
In the aftermath of the spill, people were exposed both to crude
petroleum and to Corexit, a chemical dispersant used in unprecedented
volumes during the cleanup.
Subsequent research has shown that in addition to having some hazardous
health effects on its own, the combination of Corexit and the type of
crude spilled during the Deepwater Horizon incident packs a hefty punch
for marine animals.
In the weeks following the spill, first responders reported symptoms
like rashes, respiratory problems, headaches, seizures and depression.
In response to the complains, agencies closely monitored these individuals.
As the years went by, enough significant health problems arose for a
class action lawsuit against BP. The company eventually agreed to a
settlement that included the potential for filing future claims related
Those "future claims" are ringing the doorbell now.
And they're not just coming from first responders. Those exposed to oil
in other ways, including from living and working around the areas where
oil washed ashore and handling clothing and tools used by first
responders, are developing persistent health problems.
While it's too early to definitively link all their reported symptoms to
the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the individuals claim that conditions
like pneumonia, leukemia, infertility, nerve damage, cognitive
disabilities and endocrine disorders are a result of their exposure to
oil and solvents.
These kinds of health issues have been connected to other oil spills in
the past, but BP is dragging its feet on helping with health expenses,
which can be ruinously expensive in the the United States.
These lingering problems highlight the fact that the problems associated
with an oil spill don't end when the last news camera goes away and the
last containment boom is pulled up.
People in the Gulf will be dealing with Deepwater Horizon for decades,
especially those who live in low-income communities. Given this reality,
the government is conducting longitudinal studies on people who were
exposed to analyze potential long-term health impacts.
While that research may help victims of the next big oil spill, it's
hollow for Deepwater Horizon survivors who lost their livelihoods -- and
their health -- to the disaster.
Sustainablelorgbiofuel mailing list