BP’s spilled oil is washing up in people

Thu, 20 Jan 2011
Sue Sturgis
The Institute for Southern Studies
Today marks nine months since the BP Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig exploded, killing 11 workers and sending millions of gallons of crude oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico.

Though the gushing well was capped last July, oil continues to wash ashore along the Gulf Coast. BP’s oil is also washing up in people’s bodies, raising concerns about long-term health effects.

This month the Louisiana Environmental Action Network released the results of tests performed on blood samples collected from Gulf residents. Whole blood samples were collected from 12 people between the ages of 10 and 66 in September, November and December and analyzed by a professional lab in Georgia, with the findings interpreted by environmental chemist and LEAN technical adviser Wilma Subra.

The individuals tested were two boys ages 10 and 11, four men and six women. They included cleanup workers on Orange Beach, Ala., crabbers from the Biloxi, Miss. area and people living on Perdido Key, Ala.

Four of the people tested — including three adults and the 10-year-old — showed unusually high levels of benzene, a particularly toxic component of crude oil. Subra compared the levels found in the test subjects to the levels found in subjects in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a research program conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics. More

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