Mother Earth Living

Natural Health

Better living through nature

Add to My MSN

BP Oil Spill Cleanup Workers Report Health Problems

5/26/2010 1:19:08 PM

Tags: BP, oil spill, oil spill cleanup, Gulf of Mexico, Gulf coast, health, headaches, nausea, dizziness, fumes

The BP oil spill is a never-ending disaster. Since the explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig more than a month ago, the oil leak has released millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, wreaking havoc on both fragile ecosystems and coastal economies. Shortly after the leak started, BP hired fishermen who had been put out of work by the oil spill to help clean up the mess. While BP probably thought it was doing the fishermen a favor, that “favor” quickly turned against the cleanup workers by making them sick.

oil spill worker
A Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE) worker contracted by BP collects oil that reached the shore at Elmer's Island, just west of Grand Isle, Louisiana. Concern is mounting over the health problems oil spill cleanup workers are experiencing. Photo By U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Patrick Kelly/Courtesy Flickr. 

The complaints vary from person to person, but many workers told the LA Times that they were experiencing severe headaches, dizziness, nausea and difficulty breathing. One man even told the Times that his eyes began burning and he became nauseous after just looking at piece of oil waste. Complicating the problem is BP’s failure to provide the workers with proper safety equipment. At a minimum, oil spill cleanup workers should have rubber gloves, rubber boots and especially a respirator to protect themselves from making skin contact with the oil or breathing in fumes. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires BP to provide adequate safety gear, but most workers don’t even have the basics. Reports from a few weeks back uncovered that BP wasn’t providing workers with respirators, and the Times reported that many workers aren’t even using gloves.

Although the short-term health problems are scary, if the fishermen continue to work unprotected they could face serious long-term health risks such as chronic respiratory problems and even cancer. If BP continues to not provide its workers with safety gear, the OSHA can fine the oil company. However, as many workers are afraid of losing their jobs, it’s unlikely that many will speak up.

The oil spill is endangering the health of the general public, too. The Environmental Protection Agency has warned coastal residents that fumes from the oil leak, which is 50 miles offshore, are strong enough to cause short-term health problems such as headaches, respiratory irritation and nausea.

Related Content

Is Sustainability an Impossible Dream?

We claim to live sustainably if we can harvest or extract the earth’s resources without depleting or...

6 Reasons to Stop Drinking Soda

Sodas cause abnormal weight gain and are laced with unpleasant ingredients like brominated vegetable...

In The News: Fry Foods with Healthy Fats and Oils for Better Health

A study has found that healthy fats and oils may make fried foods better for you.

Hemp Fiber Could Absorb Oil From Gulf Coast Spill (Too Bad It’s Illegal to Grow Here…)

A naturally absorbent fiber, hemp could help clean up the BP oil spill in the Gulf Coast.

Content Tools

Post a comment below.


Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.