Toxic Oil Spill Chemicals Showing Up In Gulf Coast Residents' Blood

gulf oil spill beach photo

photo: Tabitha Kaylee Hawk/Creative Commons

Nine months after the Gulf oil spill and the effects of exposure in Gulf residents is starting to show up in people's blood. The Institute for Southern Studies reports that the Louisiana Environmental Action Network has collected blood samples from 12 people between the ages of 10 and 66, finding that four of them had unusually high levels of benzene. Among the individuals tested were cleanup workers, crabbers and people living along the coast. Among those with elevated benzene levels were three adults and one ten year old child, all were crabbers. The 10 year old is now suffering severe respiratory problems as a result of chemical exposure.

[Wilma Subra of LEAN] compared the benzene levels in the Gulf residents to the [National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey] 95th percentile value -- that is, the score below which 95 percent of the NHANES subjected tested. In other words, she compared the benzene levels found in Gulf residents to some of the highest levels found in the general population.

That comparison shows cause for concern, as the benzene levels in the blood of four Gulf residents ranged between 11.9 and 35.8 times higher than the NHANES 95th percentile value of 0.26 parts per billion. Benzene is known to cause a host of health problems including anemia, irregular menstrual periods, ovarian shrinkage and leukemia.

Other chemicals found in the tested blood at high concentrations were ethylbenzene and xylene, and more.

Read more: ISS

Here's the blood analysis results from LEAN: Evaluation of the Results of WHole Blood Volatile Solvents Testing
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More on the Gulf Oil Spill:
The Gulf Coast Spill & Your Health: Tips for Clean Up Workers
The Gulf Coast Oil Spill & Your Health: The Basics
Gulf Doctors Advised to Learn to Treat Oil-Related Illnesses

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