Ask them how safe it really is to be living in the equivalent of a productive oil field! Find out when the First Family is moving down to live with you as they believe it is all so safe! Will you be serving them gulf seafood for dinner?
The EPA says the air in some places along the Louisiana coast poses a health risk to vulnerable people. The EPA says recent air sampling shows a moderate health risk in Venice and Grand Isle, two Louisiana towns about 50 miles from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill site. The agency says anyone unusually sensitive to low-quality air should avoid “prolonged or heavy exertion.” (June 8th, 2010)
Benzene is a human carcinogen!
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), US EPA, and other entities have all agreed that benzene is a human carcinogen and can cause leukemia.
Under these circumstances, EPA usually estimates a level of exposure that they consider to have “minimal” risk (e.g., one in one million chance). In the past, US EPA used the scientific studies of leukemia to calculate the level of benzene in air that they believed was likely to result in an increased risk of no greater than one in one million risk over a lifetime to be 0.13 – 0. 45 µg/m3 which is equivalent to 0.04 to 0.14 ppb.
(see http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/hlthef/benzene.html )
Risk assessment guidance from US EPA that was finalized in 2005 now uses an adjustment to account for the much greater sensitivity of children to carcinogens. The “early life exposure” adjustment factor recommended by US EPA is usually approximately equal to three. Making that adjustment to the estimated values above results in an exposure level of:
0.01 ppb – 0.05 ppb is the benzene level in air that is expected to result in a cancer risk no greater than one in one million
It is important to keep in mind that this is for benzene only, and doesn’t take into account other chemicals from the oil spill. In addition, levels in air have already been quite high in some locations following the spill. In order to minimize cancer risk, it is important to minimize future exposures.
Safety can’t be determined by smell. (what about people who have no sense of smell because of a medical condition known as Anosmia ?) Some people believe that if they don’t smell the odor of oil, the air does not have any chemicals from the oil and is safe . However, that is not true. The odor threshold for benzene (the minimum amount of a chemical in air that people can smell) is approximately 1,500 ppb (US EPA, 2002). This is more than 10,000 times the level of 0.01 ppb that is listed above.
Animal study information is also available to assess the kinds of health effects that benzene may cause. Animal species are chosen for use in studies because they share important characteristics with people so that they are useful in predicting human responses. These studies found that inhalation exposure caused cardiovascular and liver abnormalities, depressed electrical activity in the brain, and other neurological abnormalities.
Oral exposure studies in animals resulted in endometrial polyps and ovarian lesions in females exposed for two years, and preputial gland lesions (reproductive system abnormalities ) in males. There is also some evidence that benzene can cause harm to the fetus, and reduce fertility (http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp3.pdf ).
Crude oil’s toxic ingredients
can damage every system in the body.
Respiratory system; nervous system, including the brain; liver; the reproductive / urogenital system; kidneys; endocrine system; circulatory system; gastrointestinal system; immune system; sensory systems; musculoskeletal system; hematopoietic system (blood forming) skin and integumentary system; metabolism can all be affectd.
Damaging or altering these systems causes a wide range of diseases and conditions. In addition, interference with normal growth and development through endocrine disruption and direct damage to fetal tissue is caused by many crude oil ingredients (CDC, 1999).
DNA damage can cause cancer and multi-generational birth defects (http://www.epa.gov/).
Crude oil contains many chemicals that can irritate the skin and mucous membranes on contact. Irritant effects can range from slight reddening to burning, swelling (edema), pain, and permanent skin damage.
Commonly reported effects of acute exposure to crude oil through inhalation or ingestion include difficulty breathing, headaches, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and other central nervous system effects. These are more likely to be noticed than potentially more serious effects that don’t have obvious signs and symptoms: lung, liver and kidney damage, infertility, immune system suppression, disruption of hormone levels, blood disorders, mutations, and cancer.
Benzene in the crude oil can cause a variety of specific effects described in the recent CDC summary of benzene toxicity: ventricular fibrillation, congestive gastritis, toxic gastritis, pyloric stenosis, myalgia, kidney damage, skin irritation and burns, swelling and edema, vascular congestion in the brain, and lethal central nervous system depression (http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp3.pdf ).
In susceptible individuals such as children and those with health problems, moderate or low level exposures can cause effects usually associated with high exposures.
Due to the presence of chemicals in crude oil that are known to cause cancer in humans – and the fact that some of these chemicals can cause DNA damage and mutations, there is no completely safe level of exposure to many crude oil ingredients.
While our bodies have mechanisms to repair damage – that does not always occur. US EPA’s cancer risk assessment guidance documents discuss the scientific foundation for this, and clarify that any exposure to a mutagenic carcinogen (e.g., benzene) imposes some degree of risk.(http://www.epa.gov/riskassessment/guidance.htm)
Reducing exposure reduces cancer risks and the potential for other types of harm.
And some further facts:
Benzene can pass into air from water and soil surfaces. Once in the air, benzene reacts with other chemicals and breaks down within a few days. Benzene in the air can also be deposited on the ground by rain or snow.
Benzene can enter your body through your lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and across your skin. When you are exposed to high levels of benzene in air, about half of the benzene you breathe in passes through the lining of your lungs and enters your bloodstream.
When you are exposed to benzene in food or drink, most of the benzene you take in by mouth passes through the lining of your gastrointestinal tract and enters your bloodstream. A small amount will enter your body by passing through your skin and into your bloodstream during skin contact with benzene or benzene-containing products.
Once in the bloodstream, benzene travels throughout your body and can be temporarily stored in the bone marrow and fat. Benzene is converted to products, called metabolites, in the liver and bone marrow. Some of the harmful effects of benzene exposure are caused by these metabolites. Most of the metabolites of benzene leave the body in the urine within 48 hours after exposure.
After exposure to benzene, several factors determine whether harmful health effects will occur, as well as the type and severity of such health effects. These factors include the amount of benzene to which you are exposed and the length of time of the exposure.
Most information on effects of long-term exposure to benzene are from studies of workers employed in industries that make or use benzene. These workers were exposed to levels of benzene in air far greater than the levels normally encountered by the general population. Current levels of benzene in workplace air are much lower than in the past. Because of this reduction and the availability of protective equipment such as respirators, fewer workers have symptoms of benzene poisoning.
Brief exposure (5-10 minutes) to very high levels of benzene in air (10,000-20,000 ppm) can result in death. Lower levels (700-3,000 ppm) can cause drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heart rate, headaches, tremors, confusion, and unconsciousness. In most cases, people will stop feeling these effects when they are no longer exposed and begin to breathe fresh air.
Eating foods or drinking liquids containing high levels of benzene can cause vomiting, irritation of the stomach, dizziness, sleepiness, convulsions, rapid heart rate, coma, and death. The health effects that may result from eating foods or drinking liquids containing lower levels of benzene are not known. If you spill benzene on your skin, it may cause redness and sores. Benzene in your eyes may cause general irritation and damage to your cornea.
Benzene causes problems in the blood. People who breathe benzene for long periods may experience harmful effects in the tissues that form blood cells, especially the bone marrow. These effects can disrupt normal blood production and cause a decrease in important blood components. A decrease in red blood cells can lead to anemia.
Reduction in other components in the blood can cause excessive bleeding. Blood production may return to normal after exposure to benzene stops. Excessive exposure to benzene can be harmful to the immune system, increasing the chance for infection and perhaps lowering the body’s defense against cancer.
Long-term exposure to benzene can cause cancer of the blood-forming organs. This condition is called leukemia.
Exposure to benzene has been associated with development of a particular type of leukemia called acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The Department of Health and Human Services has determined that benzene is a known carcinogen (can cause cancer). Both the International Agency for Cancer Research and the EPA have determined that benzene is carcinogenic to humans.
Exposure to benzene may be harmful to the reproductive organs. Some women workers who breathed high levels of benzene for many months had irregular menstrual periods. When examined, these women showed a decrease in the size of their ovaries. However, exact exposure levels were unknown, and the studies of these women did not prove that benzene caused these effects. It is not known what effects exposure to benzene might have on the developing fetus in pregnant women or on fertility in men. Studies with pregnant animals show that breathing benzene has harmful effects on the developing fetus. These effects include low birth weight, delayed bone formation, and bone marrow damage.
We do not know what human health effects might occur after long-term exposure to food and water contaminated with benzene. In animals, exposure to food or water contaminated with benzene can damage the blood and the immune system and can cause cancer.
Cancer is not something that will show up after a week of exposure to toxic chemicals – it can and does take years to form and cause its insidious damage. Telling the Gulf Locals to stay inside is not the answer…. the poison is everywhere, carried, as it were on the winds…….
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