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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 11/16/10

Illness Plagues Gulf Residents in BP's Aftermath

By Dahr Jamail  Posted by Mac McKinney (about the submitter)       (Page 2 of 3 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page. (View How Many People Read This)   1 comment
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Last month, Dr. Wilma Subra, a chemist and Macarthur Fellow, conducted blood tests for volatile solvents on eight people who live and work along the coast.

"All eight individuals tested had Ethylbenzene and m,p- Xylene in their blood in excess of the NHANES 95th Percentile," according to Subra's report. "Ethylbenzene, m,p-Xylene and Hexane are volatile organic chemicals that are present in the BP Crude Oil. The blood of all three females and five males had chemicals that are found in the BP Crude Oil."

DeAngelis was one of the people tested.

The health problems she and Rednour are experiencing are now common along the Gulf Coast, from Louisiana all the way to Florida.

Chuck Barnes is director of the Alabama district of the Eastern Surfing Association, and is responsible for organising surfing competitions.

"In early September our local government gave the all-clear so surfers started going back into the water," Barnes told IPS. "But we immediately had several surfers get sick with headaches, upper respiratory problems, and other things and that's when I decided we needed to test the water."

Barnes says that tests conducted in the Orange Beach area "all came up toxic".

"Now I'm worried about the fact that everybody is still giving the all clear signal, but nobody [government] is doing honest testing," he said. "We have fresh tar balls washing up right now. They just turned the Gulf into their huge science experiment, and we're just sitting here under the microscope waiting to see what happens to us."

Joe Overstreet, a merchant seaman, lives in Fairhope, Alabama, which is on the coast and Mobile Bay. He also had his blood tested by Dr. Subra.

"I have a new rash on my body now, on my chest, and this is after an older rash I've had that turned into blisters. I did the blood test in Pensacola, and when it was returned I tested positive for six of the nine chemicals in BP's dispersants," he said.

Overstreet worked as an oil disaster response worker for BP.

"I take Benadryl pretty much every night so I don't wake up with a headache," he told IPS. "I have pains on my right side recently, and unbelievable headaches. When they start happening I have to stop everything. I have them every day."

Overstreet, who has worked in the oil fields and is familiar with the dangers and chemicals used, said he and his neighbours "could smell the Benzene coming up into the bay. I was working on the beaches, and on low tides we can see the clams out there. They used to be white. Now they are all black. And nobody seems to pay any attention to this. I've lived here all my life and I know it's not right."

Like others, he is mystified by the lack of appropriate response by government authorities.

"I feel like I'm in the twilight zone. Nobody seems to be doing anything or talking about it," he said.

DeAngelis is worried about the dolphins she has come to love and protect, as well as humans living along the coast.

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