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The Alarm Bell of The Pending Gulf Disaster

by ARGeezer Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 03:34:23 PM EST

From The Gulf Stream To The Bloodstream  H/T to pinche tejano at Docudharma

When Is Enough, Enough?

For nearly five months, the BP oil disaster has consumed the minds of millions of people worldwide. In addition to the horrific impacts that the crude oil and chemical dispersants have daily on the environment and the economy, a fatal threat has quietly slipped by the public's proverbial radar. The harm dealt by this silent enemy is beginning to creep into the lives of those living and working in the Gulf. The problem has been lurking in the Gulf since the first days of the BP oil spill and now has the potential ignite a disaster unlike any this country has ever seen.


Who is this masked bandit? What is this mysterious force that has the potential to outpace the spill's catastrophic events thus far? Though it may sound like a simple answer, (and it is not easy to swallow) the truth is that this tragedy is silent, and if you live in the Gulf, it is most likely affecting you right now as you read this. What is it? Your health may be in extreme jeopardy due to the toxic effects of the dispersant Corexit and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from crude oil inundating the air. Through recent studies conducted under the combined efforts of Michelle Nix of Gulf Coast Oil Spill Volunteers, Jo Billups and Karen Harvill of Sassafrass, Dr. Robert Naman, Project Gulf Impact, medical professionals, and the brave Gulf residents who have agreed to be tested, the toxic health effects of the poisons in the air and in the sea have been documented for the first time. The results? This stands to become one of the greatest health tragedies The United States has ever seen.

....

Why is this killer so silent? Why have we not heard much about the disastrous health effects of this oil and dispersant in the air? Why are everyday citizens not catching on to what gargantuan health problems are coming in the not-so-distant future, affecting everyone, even the journalists who should be reporting on it? The answer may seem strange, and it is complex, however the biggest problem facing this mounting horrific scenario is... the BP oil spill was not a hurricane.

....

With a hurricane, we know the death toll, the devastation right away. We see the bodies, the houses underwater, and the numbers of dollars lost in real-time as all of the data floods the national spotlight in the aftermath of the disaster. With disasters like Hurricane Katrina, our heartstrings are tugged as we witness cities underwater, mothers crying out for their children, and the newly homeless wandering the streets. We are used to hurricanes. We have evacuation routes. Whether they function or not, we have plans in place for disasters like these.

No such plan exists for the victims of an oil spill. Instinctively, we are aware of floods, fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other "over the counter" disasters. Most of us have never suffered an oil spill, much less have any notion of what to do in the event of one. The problem we are facing now transcends most disasters this nation has suffered in the last century.

The oil spill, and our ensuing response, has created a darker and deadlier aftermath that will persist for decades. The difference is between a swift and lethal blow verses lingering end-stage cancer. Like the first stage of cancer, which often goes long-undetected, this aftermath is a slow, deadly creep. We are entering stage one of the Gulf residents' proverbial "cancer".

Sad to say, but scarcely suprising, Government efforts to date have NOT included monitoring the blood levels in coast residents of known toxins associated with the spill and the dispersants. But here is an example of private sector charitable initiatives stepping in to do the needed work. The video clip gives a good summary of the efforts and findings.  

Patterns are emerging. The same symptoms are being reported across the four hardest hit states. Michelle Nix of GCOSV discovered the Volatile Solvents Profile - a blood test that tests for hydrocarbons in the blood. Through the generous support of Jo Billups and Karen Harvill of Sassafrass, and the support of Dr. Robert Naman, among others, testing on Gulf residents has begun. The results are extremely alarming.

Several volatile hydrocarbons found in crude oil have been detected in the blood of several residents from Orange Beach, AL. Among the hydrocarbons tested, ethylbenzene, xylene, hexane were detected at abnormally high levels. The individuals tested were not directly involved in BP's clean-up operations, nor had they been exposed to any industrial environment where the presence of these compounds would be of concern. Due to these circumstances, it can be deduced that residents living near the Gulf of Mexico shoreline are at exposure risk.

Crude oil is composed of several highly toxic compounds, including light weight hydrocarbons, often referred to as "light-ends," which can easily enter the atmosphere and invade the terrestrial environment. These lightweight hydrocarbons are classified as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's), which can be tested in the blood, urine, breath, and sometimes tissues. The tests that were performed on several gulf coast residents indicated the presence of ethyl benzene, xylene, & hexane. While their toxicity is known, specific data on the dose and physiological responses to the aforementioned hydrocarbons is generally scarce in the scientific literature. Ethyl benzene is suspected by the International Agency for Research on Cancer to be a human carcinogen. Acute, high-exposure symptoms include eye irritation, upper respiratory irritation, and dizziness. Chronic exposure has resulted in irreversible inner ear damage and hearing loss, as well as severe kidney damage and cancer.

Xylene is metabolized into methylhippuric acid by the body. Studies on xylene toxicity have determined a potential relationship between gaseous exposure and the development of leukemia. The chemical is highly toxic to the central nervous system and manifests as dizziness, lack of coordination, and cognitive decline. Chronic exposure is also known to cause kidney failure. Studies on hexane toxicity are highly limited, but include evidence of neurological impairment manifest by decreased nerve conduction velocity. (CDC.gov)

These chemicals have the potential to cause both acute and chronic symptoms depending upon the dose and time frame of exposure. Thus, while low doses may not result in immediate and apparent symptoms, the cumulative nature of these toxins means that disease may still manifest years down the line if exposure occurs chronically. While many VOC's are excreted very quickly, the human body is impacted with every dose, no matter how minuscule. When the impact of several tiny doses are combined, such as in people who are experiencing daily low-level exposure, the result can be detrimental. In addition to the direct impact of these specific VOC's, many of them can be metabolized by the body and converted into other structurally distinct compounds, some of which are known to accumulate causing several different types of cancer, genetic damage, and birth defects. In essence, the health threat of chronic low-dose chemical toxicity is highly underestimated. Strict bio-monitoring and caution is required to prevent the potential unseen slaughter by a silent chemical killer.


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There is a reason why, in all my posts on fossil fuels, i call them, simply, poison.

Now the world will begin to find out just how much. Thanks for posting this.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 06:38:56 PM EST
Poison.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 06:39:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was raised in the oil patch. I went to college because of an oil company competitive scholarship. So it pains me in many ways to say it, but the poison is not just to our bodies but also to the depths of our culture.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 07:12:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The oil poses a quite sufficient set of problems all by itself. But just as seperate toxins combine to create exponentially more dangerous toxins, the toxicity of the fossil fuel industry has combined with financial capitalism to create the systemic poison that is changing our biosphere into a state that is likely to be far less salubrious to human habitation and at the same time has contributed to a toxic politics that renders effectively addressing the problems almost impossible.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 07:16:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And it is, in some respects, much like the ongoing flood disaster in Pakistan. Not one big, front-page-worthy event but a series of small things invisible to the casual onlooker. With results equally devastating to all.

Thanks for posting this. Forwarding it to family members in Florida.

by Mnemosyne on Sun Sep 12th, 2010 at 03:09:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They should have their blood levels checked. If there are family members who lived in Florida until recently, but left before April 15, 2010, it might be a good idea for them to get the same blood screen test done so they can serve as controls for those who are still there.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Sep 12th, 2010 at 05:32:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EXCLUSIVE: Tests find sickened family has 50.3 ppm of Corexit's 2-butoxyethanol in swimming pool -- JUST ONE HOUR NORTH OF TAMPA (lab report included) | Florida Oil Spill Law
"Our heads are still swimming," stated Barbara Schebler of Homosassa, Florida, who received word last Friday that test results on the water from her family's swimming pool showed 50.3 ppm of 2-butoxyethanol, a marker for the dispersant Corexit 9527A used to break up and sink BP's oil in the Gulf of Mexico.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 12th, 2010 at 05:00:55 AM EST
2-butoxyethanol has a boiling point of 171 C so how does this stuff get from the coast to the Florida swimming pool? Is it in the drinking water?!

From Wiki:

Other products containing 2-butoxyethanol as a primary ingredient include some whiteboard cleaners, liquid soaps, cosmetics, dry cleaning solutions, lacquers, varnishes, herbicides, and latex paints.

Better check other potential sources. My first thought was sunscreens ... people swimming after sunbathing.


The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon Sep 13th, 2010 at 09:05:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When all else fails, read the article.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon Sep 13th, 2010 at 09:09:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You mean this?

EXCLUSIVE: Tests find sickened family has 50.3 ppm of Corexit's 2-butoxyethanol in swimming pool -- JUST ONE HOUR NORTH OF TAMPA (lab report included) | Florida Oil Spill Law

The question remains, how did this chemical find its way into the Schebler's pool in such a high concentration?

"At night we would hear very low aircraft, including helicopters. We figured they were just heading to help out in the Gulf," and Mrs. Schebler added that she was told, "The prevailing winds from the Gulf are easterly -- and when they spray, it is airborne -- and that we are right in the path of those winds." It was also noted that, "We had alot of rain here before my husband got sick, and wondered what was going on... We had been having daily downpours in July."

There is no way to be sure at this point. Though she stated, "Friends a few miles away... are having [a] similar situation. They are now thinking of getting their water tested."



By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 13th, 2010 at 09:37:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Water boils at 100C yet there is humidity, but I find the hypothesis of helicopter drops of Corexit being responsible for a portion blowing far inland to be more compelling.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Sep 13th, 2010 at 12:11:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think rain water with last point of origin being the Gulf could also be responsible.  I grew up in Mobile. Many evenings during the Summer thunder storms would roll in from the Gulf. It would rain so hard I could sometimes find small fish (sorry no cats or dogs) on the ground afterwards. I presume they were pulled up into the storm system directly from the Gulf waters and carried aloft until dumped from a thunderhead. I would, therefore, question whether evaporation/transpiration is always a necessary component for precipitation. In the case of animals, obviously it is not, but could not liquid water, along with toxins, also become airborne?  

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Mon Sep 13th, 2010 at 04:21:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Better example from BBC on Youtube.  This video also explains how large volumes of water may also be brought directly into the atmosphere by a cyclone/water spout.

I also wouldn't discount ocean spray (as they also mentioned in the news article) depending on how close the family lives to affected Gulf waters. Day in and day out spray can really accumulate quite a lot I suspect.

 

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Mon Sep 13th, 2010 at 04:39:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FYI! Spammer spammerized. (That should take with it the associated comments.) Was a comment spammer who came on site after I did my last spam patrol for the evening.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Sep 12th, 2010 at 08:16:48 AM EST
Way to get 'em, Geez.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sun Sep 12th, 2010 at 08:20:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are plainly hushing up what they are doing and hoping that people just die quietly.  The media is on-board with that and the news blackout is almost total.  Even lefty news has nothing.  

Blogland is another story, with a few good sites posting local and first-person accounts.  

I believe Dimitri Orlov was the first to make the analogy with the fire-and-meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in the Ukraine.  It has been amazing how similar the official reactions have been in both cases.  

The Gulf of Mexico dead/no-go zone will probably only last decades, rather than centuries, but this will be long enough for total disruption of human activities.  

This is like hurricane Katrina, only more so, with government and corporate culpability at every level (and not just in the disaster response).  I rather expect the credibility of the US Government will decline to zero, though it will probably take longer than any estimate I would make.  

Considering that the US Government is now murdering its own citizens, and on a rather large scale, I think the eventual effects of disillusionment will be extensive.  

Orlov more or less implied that the BP blowout will be a visible cause of the disintegration of the United States, much as Chernobyl was for the Soviets--and I think he is right.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Mon Sep 13th, 2010 at 11:25:06 PM EST
Chernobyl is a poor analogy for a couple of reasons:

  1. The bulk of the damage in the Chernobyl incident involved loss of human life. Chernobyl had minimal impact on local ecology (or even positive, due to the undisturbed habitats left by the no-go zone). The bulk of the damage from the BP spill will be in the form of habitat destruction that will affect humans only indirectly.

  2. Radiation tolerance is much better understood than tolerance for volatile aromatic molecules. This made the quarantine zone much easier to calculate. Further, the Chernobyl quarantine zone is not unworkably large. Both of these considerations make it a much more viable operation to simply relocate everybody who might be at risk.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.
by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 14th, 2010 at 01:28:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
bulk of the damage in the Chernobyl incident involved loss of human life.
 
Just be patient:  We will be seeing some of that.  

minimal impact on local ecology
 

Resistance to radiation effects varies widely from species to species, in both plants and animals.  Your assertion is only possible if the ecosystems near Chernobyl consisted mainly of resistant species.  This is . . . unlikely.  

That SOME forms of wildlife are flourishing in the Chernobyl no-go zone is certainly true.  

Radiation tolerance is much better understood than tolerance for volatile aromatic molecules.
 
Really?  Well, that maybe, but I find that comparing "safe" levels with actual health effects leads one to believe the "safe" levels in both cases are wildly optimistic.  In any case, the official ignorance of the effects of volatile hydrocarbons is just that--official.  These chemicals have been around and causing health problems for a long time, and quite a bit is already known.  

Further, the Chernobyl quarantine zone is not unworkably large.
 
I gather you mean the BP oil blowout is WORSE than Chernobyl?????  I am not ready to argue that--not yet anyway.  I can foresee major portions of four US states needing to be totally evacuated, and I can also foresee no government agency wanting to suggest any such thing, let alone pay for it.  That BP does not intend to pay for it goes without saying.  

The Fates are kind.
by Gaianne on Tue Sep 14th, 2010 at 03:19:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Resistance to radiation effects varies widely from species to species, in both plants and animals.  Your assertion is only possible if the ecosystems near Chernobyl consisted mainly of resistant species.

Quite bluntly, mortality levels that would be deemed catastrophic in modern human populations are the order of the day for most flora and fauna in their natural habitat - to say nothing of the mortality induced by human habitat destruction. Even if you had observed thirty percent of local wildlife die or develop serious morbidities in the immediate area, it would more than be compensated for in a generation or two by the absence of human-induced mortality and morbidity.

The long-term effects are insignificant in wild animals - again, natural mortality rates are so high that the addition of radiation-induced birth defects or radiation cancer is basically a rounding error. And far fewer animals in the wild than humans in a modern industrial society live long enough to develop debilitating radiation cancer anyway - radiation is only scary to humans because we've eliminated most of the afflictions that used to do us in on a much shorter time scale. Carnivorous megafauna has a problem with accumulation in the food chain, but in inhabited areas humans are the only carnivorous megafauna around - the rest are all dead, on account of humans not liking them.

Really?  Well, that maybe, but I find that comparing "safe" levels with actual health effects leads one to believe the "safe" levels in both cases are wildly optimistic.

Well, that's an empirical question. Apparently you have better data than I do - care to share it?

I gather you mean the BP oil blowout is WORSE than Chernobyl?????

In its impact on wildlife and habitats? Without a shadow of doubt. In outright human deaths? Unlikely. In human morbidity? Too early to tell.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 14th, 2010 at 09:50:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Where's the Oil? On the Gulf Floor, Scientists Say  NYT

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Far beneath the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, deeper than divers can go, scientists say they are finding oil from the busted BP well on the sea's muddy and mysterious bottom.

Oil at least two inches thick was found Sunday night and Monday morning about a mile beneath the surface. Under it was a layer of dead shrimp and other small animals, said University of Georgia researcher Samantha Joye, speaking from the helm of a research vessel in the Gulf.

....

''I expected to find oil on the sea floor,'' Joye said Monday morning in a ship-to-shore telephone interview. ''I did not expect to find this much. I didn't expect to find layers two inches thick. It's weird the stuff we found last night. Some of it was really dense and thick.''

Joye said 10 of her 14 samples showed visible oil, including all the ones taken north of the busted well. She found oil on the sea floor as far as 80 miles away from the site of the spill. ''It's kind of like having a blizzard where the snow comes in and covers everything,'' Joye said.

And the look of the oil, its state of degradation, the way it settled on freshly dead animals all made it unlikely that the crude was from the millions of gallons of oil that naturally seep into the Gulf from the sea bottom each year, she said. Later this week, the oil will be tested for the chemical fingerprints that would conclusively link it to the BP spill.



As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Sep 13th, 2010 at 11:56:29 PM EST
H/T to Wilberforce at Docudharma for the link.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Sep 13th, 2010 at 11:59:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unimpressed by the fear-mongering, due to consistent reports from various biomedical sources that low-level effects don't accumulate, but are repaired constantly.

People seem to want to be scared all the time. I think it's called adrenaline addiction, or popularly "drama queening." I know several personally, or knew them for a while. Very wearing people.

Yes, I read the article. It's crap. Where's the extensive testing of the behavior and chemicals of the people in the house? Where are the proofs that the trace chemical came from CorExit?

Case not made.

Align culture with our nature.

by ormondotvos (ormond no spam lmi net no spam) on Thu Sep 16th, 2010 at 12:46:29 AM EST
That depends strongly on the source of low level "effects". I agree for certain types of low level radiation. But many chemicals have been shown to accumulate in fat and organs and to have multiple deleterious effects. You need a finer brush there.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Sep 17th, 2010 at 02:59:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Most cancer-causing substances fall in this category, including ionizing radiation.  

Imagine a given dosage causes 50 deaths when spread over a population of 1000.  Then the same dosage spread over a population of 1 000 000 will again give 50 deaths.  

In the second case, each individual is getting 1/1000th the dose that is being delivered in the first case and has only 1/1000th the chance of dying, still, 50 deaths occur.  No threshold.  

In the case of organ damage caused by hydrocarbons, it is also doubtful that there is a threshold.  Alternatively, there may be a threshold, but if the organ damage is not repaired, the effect is rightly called cumulative since damage accumulates over time until sickness or death is achieved.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Tue Sep 21st, 2010 at 12:53:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
US Government, or you lying eyes?  

The Fates are kind.
by Gaianne on Tue Sep 21st, 2010 at 01:02:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Chemical Testing Company - ACT Laboratories - was issued record fines, by the State of Alabama; for 2 consecutive years (1998 & 1999) for mishandling of Hazardous Materials.  Chemist Robert Naman was/is the owner of ACT.

<a href="http://www.enviro-net.com/main.asp?page=story&id=7&month=05&paper=ga&year=1999">http://www.enviro-net.com/main.asp?page=story&id=7&month=05&paper=ga&year=1999</a>

It's a piece of info, as relevant as any; that isn't included when this story is repeated around the web.

NV

by Noah Vail on Fri Sep 17th, 2010 at 12:22:26 PM EST
Noah, the link you provided gives an error message. It may be resolved in time. Was ACT Laboratories one of the labs involved in the testing?  If so, what specific type of testing?

Certainly proper disposal of toxic materials submitted for test would be a significant expense for a company that performs such tests and, therefore the temptation to resort to improper disposal would be significant. Such behavior does not burnish one's green credentials but neither does it necessarily invalidate the test results.

And funny things can happen in Alabama, just ask the former Democratic Governor. Proves nothing, but, just saying....

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Sep 17th, 2010 at 02:56:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The link works for me. Try again here.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Sep 17th, 2010 at 03:08:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Works now for me as well.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Sep 17th, 2010 at 04:15:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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