Gulf Workers Reporting Breathing Problems
"One person comes in, it could be multiple things," he said. "Eleven people come in with these symptoms, it makes it incredibly suspicious."
That from Dr. Damon Dietrich who works the emergency room at West Jefferson Medical Center in New Orleans where, for the past week, workers cleaning up the BP oil rig have come in with respiratory problems, nausea, and headaches.
Dr. Dietrich believes the symptoms could be caused by the burning of crude oil or dispersants used to break up crude oil from a massive spill in the Gulf, or from the fumes coming from the crude oil itself.
Everyone has been treated and released.
The complaints are similar to those heard from crews working to clean up the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. 6,700 of the Exxon Valdez workers reportedly suffered respiratory problems.
There are no long-term studies to rely on but workers trying to clean up Gulf Coast beaches have also been complaining of flu-like symptoms.
The head of BP has blamed the symptoms on food poisoning. The U.S. Coast Guard says it could be dehydration or heat. The Louisiana health department is investigating.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that long-term exposure to dispersants can harm the blood, kidneys, and liver.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Rep. Edward Markey told BP to stop using two products from the Corexit dispersant line of products, giving a Sunday, May 23rd deadline in order to switch to less harmful dispersant.
The New York Times reports that BP ignored the order and continued to spray Corexit on Gulf waters the next day.
BP reportedly took issue with the way the EPA gauged its toxicity.
With hundreds of BP contractors floating in Gulf waters trying to contain the floating and submerged crude reports are now just coming in to local hospitals, the Louisiana Poison Center, as well as the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.
Fisherman John Wunstell Jr. spent the night out near the source of the spill where crude oil was being burned. He believes dispersants were sprayed during the night and reported to Associated Press a severe headache, nose bleed and upset stomach. He has sued and is now part of a class-action lawsuit filed in New Orleans last month naming BP, Transocean and their insurance companies.
"I began to ache all over ..." he said in the affidavit. "I was completely unable to function at this point and feared that I was seriously ill,” reports Fox News.
Cleanup workers are being advised to wear protective clothing, gloves and safety glasses.#