Saturday, March 12, 2011

Gulf spill sickness wrecking lives

Source: Al Jazeera English

"I have critically high levels of chemicals in my body," 33-year-old Steven Aguinaga of Hazlehurst, Mississippi told Al Jazeera. "Yesterday I went to see another doctor to get my blood test results and the nurse said she didn't know how I even got there."

Aguinaga and his close friend Merrick Vallian went swimming at Fort Walton Beach, Florida, in July 2010.

"I swam underwater, then found I had orange slick stuff all over me," Aguinaga said. "At that time I had no knowledge of what dispersants were, but within a few hours, we were drained of energy and not feeling good. I've been extremely sick ever since."

Aguinaga's health has been in dramatic decline.

"I have terrible chest pain, at times I can’t seem to get enough oxygen, and I'm constantly tired with pains all over my body," Aguinaga explained, "At times I'm pissing blood, vomiting dark brown stuff, and every pore of my body is dispensing water."

And Aguinaga's friend Vallian is now dead.

"After we got back from our vacation in Florida, Merrick went to work for a company contracted by BP to clean up oil in Grand Isle, Louisiana," Aguinaga said of his 33-year-old physically fit friend.

"Aside from some gloves, BP provided no personal protection for them. He worked for them for two weeks and then died on August 23. He had just got his first paycheck, and it was in his wallet, uncashed, when he died."

Wilma Subra, a MacArthur Fellow and chemist in Louisiana, has been testing the blood of BP cleanup workers and residents in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Subra tested Doom's blood and found high amounts of several VOC's.

"Ethylbenzene, mp-Xylene and Hexane are volatile organic chemicals that are present in the BP crude oil," Subra told Al Jazeera. "We're finding these in excess of the 95th percentile, which is the average for the entire nation. Sometimes we're finding amounts 5 to 10 times in excess of the 95th percentile."

Subra explained that there has been long enough exposure so as to create chronic impacts, that include "Liver damage, kidney damage, and damage to the nervous system. So the presence of these chemicals in the blood indicates exposure."

Testing by Subra has also revealed the chemicals are present "in coastal soil sediment, wetlands, and in crab, oyster and mussel tissues."

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at Al Jazeera English.
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