Posted: Jul 22, 2010 10:34 AM by Melissa Canone
Gulf Oil Disaster Recovery Attorney Stuart Smith, representing commercial fishermen, environmental groups,
public entities and businesses throughout the Gulf Coast states impacted by the DEEPWATER HORIZON catastrophe
issued the following statement with toxicologist Dr. William Sawyer:
"The EPA is showing toluene and benzene levels appearing 20 to 30 times above normal while independent testing has revealed benzene air levels up to 72-times in excess of the EPA industrial screening guidelines in oil cleanup areas.
"Although the well may be capped, Louisiana and coastal gulf residents still have plenty of reasons to be worried about the health impacts of the oil spill.
"It is possible that coastal areas and even inland communities like the greater New Orleans area may have severe ozone days, requiring health alerts and even possible evacuations.
"Our independent studies show BP workers are demonstrating the same toxicological effects as those reported by volunteers associated with other international cleanups.
"Such effects are a known side-effect of past oil spills in cleanup zones around the world. What is not known is how wide an area will be affected, and to what extent. Given the size of the Deepwater Horizon spill and the vast area of Gulf coastline affected, even conservative estimates are potentially alarming.
"The independent samples reflect on-shore general air quality where the workers have been unloading contaminated booms and on beaches as opposed to actual breathing zone samples or off-shore slick zones. Samples locations are limited due to BP restrictions.
"Although short-term exposure at this level is usually not harmful, we are concerned that long-term and repeated exposures to benzene and numerous other volatile vapors released from the crude may cause serious neurological problems for oil-cleanup workers. Numerous published studies of past spills from around the world plainly show cleanup workers suffering from a variety of medical conditions caused by such exposures.
"Louisianans, especially those working at or near the spill site, can expect to experience symptoms of respiratory, somatic, and skin problems for some time."
For information on Stuart Smith, http://www.gulfoildisasterrecovery.com/web/index.asp?mode=full&id=609
For information on Dr. Sawyer, http://www.gulfoildisasterrecovery.com/web/index.asp?cat=DOC