Monday, June 28, 2010

Human health effects of BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico?

What is the oil doing to human health? What about the chemicals used to disperse it?

Health officials don't know yet.

Even Jimmy Guidry, director of the Louisiana Department of Health, who says 108 workers and 35 residents have reported ailments they believe are related to oil or dispersants, admits he can't prove the connection.

"It's hard to understand if nausea or dizziness or headache is related to the oil or to working in 100-degree heat in a [protective] suit," he said.

The lack of certainty led the U.S. Institute of Medicine, health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, to hastily convene a symposium of experts in New Orleans on Tuesday and Wednesday seeking better understanding.

"Some scientists say there's little or no toxicity from the oil," U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin told the group. "Others express serious concerns."

You would have to be an oil company executive, or a government bureaucrat angling for a job with an oil company, to doubt whether oil and oil dispersant chemicals pose a hazard for humans.

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