Exposing the human side of BP's oil spill
In pictures: Doctors in the Gulf attribute deaths and illnesses to harmful dispersants used in the clean-up effort.
Last Modified: 17 May 2011 16:23

Many of the chemicals present in BP oil and dispersants are known to cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, kidney damage, altered renal function, and irritation of the digestive tract.

Dispersants were used after BP's oil disaster that began on April 20, 2010, when an explosion killed 11 workers, spilling at least 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, and causing the largest environmental disaster in US history

Further health problems linked to dispersants include stomach discomfort, liver and kidney damage, unconsciousness, tiredness/lethargy, irritation of the upper respiratory tract, hematological disorders, and death. Many of the chemicals are mutagenic, terratogenic, and carcinogenic.

Pathways of exposure to the chemicals are inhalation, ingestion, skin, and eye contact.

Al Jazeera has talked with dozens of sick people across the Gulf Coast who attribute their illnesses to chemicals from BP's oil disaster.

Mike Robicheux, a doctor in Louisiana who has been treating scores of people he says are being made sick from BP's toxic chemicals, told Al Jazeera: "This is the biggest public health crisis from a chemical poisoning in the history of this country. We are going to have thousands of people who are extremely sick, and if they aren't treated, a large number of them are going to die."

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