Are Gulf Coast residents consuming more oil spill-related toxins, and how safe is dispersant for consumption?

Meghan Scott, FDA spokeswoman, stated to Pro Publica, "There's not a huge body of research that has been done. While we are finding that [dispersant] is harmful to the living fish itself, there's a difference between what it does to a living fish and any harm that might have for a human consuming a fish that was in or near water with dispersant in it."

Nalco then stated that the chemicals in Corexit, their dispersant that aided in cleaning up the spill, "do not bio-accumulate and are commonly found in popular household products." Right. But is consuming household cleaning products any good for you?

They then went on to state, "In fact, we have not seen any evidence of dispersant-related health effects and government responders have not stated that they have found such a link either." Of course you're not going to see adverse health effects just a few months after consuming dispersant-tainted seafood; but what about in five years? 10?

The EPA has been doing testing on the dispersants used in the Gulf but still have many factors to test, including their toxicity when combined with the oil.

As we've seen in current times with lawsuits being filed against companies for using asbestos in buildings and the like, will we be seeing a flood of claims against Nalco in ten plus years due to people becoming ill from Gulf seafood?

Information via: TreeHugger; Image: tiny banquet committee via Flickr.

Remember the tests that were being done on Gulf seafood last summer, including the "seafood sniffers", to check for oil and carcinogens? The NOAA tested for PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) that are typically found in crude oils and concluded that there was "low potential to bioaccumulate in seafood" and "low in human toxicity." The remaining issue is that they weren't checking for toxins and carcinogens in the dispersants used to clean up the oil. The fish eat the dispersant then we eat the fish, therefore we're also eating the dispersant.

To determine how much seafood the typical person eats to determine how much oil and/or dispersant one could potentially consume, the FDA is gathering information from their national average. However, they haven't taken into consideration that people in the Gulf Coast region eat a lot more seafood than the average American. The NRDC has just released their independent study and found that Gulf Coast residents consume 3.6-12.1 times as much seafood as the national average.

The NRDC and 36 Gulf Coast groups have issued a letter to the FDA in an effort to get them to reexamine the risks of the region's seafood consumption patterns.

Pro Publica writes, "Until that dispersant test is ready, both the FDA and NOAA have said that 'based on current science,' the dispersants BP is using have 'a low potential to bioaccumulate in fish flesh and are low in human toxicity, and therefore there is no significant public health risk associated with consuming seafood that has been exposed to them.'"

Scroll to read more Florida News articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.