By: Steve Kolian
EcoRigs Non-profit Organization
6765 Corporate Blvd. #1207
Baton Rouge, LA 70809
A team of three scientific divers found high levels of ethyl benzene and xylene in their blood after completing 15-20, -dives of approximately 30 minutes, while wearing full wet suits. The diving was done over the summer and early fall of 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico Main Pass, Mississippi Canyon and Grand Isle areas. EcoRigs is a small, self-funded Non-profit Corporation that studies the marine life on offshore platforms. Initially, we were told it was safe to dive offshore but about the end of July, one of us started to show unusual symptoms and quit diving by mid-August. Then another member became sick in late September and we all stopped diving. Our last dive was October 12th 2010. Collectively, our symptoms included blood in our stool, bleeding from the nose and eyes, nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps and dizziness and confusion. The symptoms did not appear all at once but were intermittent and were not compounded but occurred independently. They started in July and will continue, I fear, into the future. Corexit and ethyl benzene attack the hemoglobin in the red blood cells and causes ruptures in the blood cell lining.
After months of frustration, searching for diagnosis and medical help, blood samples were collected and sent to the lab January 21st 2011 and the results showed quantities many times greater than background levels.
Crude Oil has a Specific Gravity less than that of seawater and it will float upon the surface. The combination of the dispersant Corexit and crude oil forms a toxic compound with a Specific Gravity greater than that of seawater and it sinks while disintegrating into small droplets that easily diffuse through the skin. EcoRigs research involved collecting video data of the clouds of the subsurface oil and Corexit plume. Over the course of the summer, we recorded the subsurface plume in many different states of particulate matter from globs to small fine droplets. You can view our exposure events at : http://www.ecorigs.org/EcoRigsOilSpill.html.
Water saturated with BP oil and Corexit contains a number of carcinogenic compounds. The blood VOC analysis only detects 10 organic compounds associated with oil and solvent exposure. It is the compounds associated with Corexit that concern us most. Both Corexit 9527 and 9500 contain neuro toxic constituents that cause severe adverse human health problems. When Corexit comes in direct contact with a human body, it breaks down the protective lipid layer under the skin, which then allows toxins direct access into the blood stream. That is why workers who handle Corexit have to wear a full body protective suits and respirator masks when handling Corexit. These precautions are not required when working with the production of oil and gas. Corexit is a highly carcinogenic substance.
Corexit, with its toxic constituents, enters the blood and causes acute symptoms, like lesions, rash, itching, disorientation and dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, blood in the stool, and the break down of red blood cells, which can cause bruising and/or internal bleeding.. The long-term effects are more lethal. 2 Butoxy Ethanol (2BTE) is the most toxic ingredient in Corexit. There is an established track record from exposure to Corexit and 2 BTE which can be observed in the long-term study of the Exxon Valdez spill. 2 BTE creates lesions, sore throat, dizziness, central nervous system depression, kidney problems, liver problems, and auto immune depression. The presence of these symptoms, then leads to a predictable sequence of consequences: DNA replication problems, which usually leads to some forms of cancer, which then leads to death, as the Valdez oil spill track record has firmly established.
How do you tell if you have been exposed to dangerous levels of BP Oil and Dispersants?
If you have been diving in the north central Gulf of Mexico since the oil spill, you may want to ask a physician to screen your blood for a Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). A lab in Duluth Georgia can perform the analysis for approximately $250 and return the results to you in a couple of weeks. The address to the VOC screening lab is provided below. If you find you have high levels of VOCs in your blood stream, you may have been exposed to BP oil and Corexit dispersant. You should then begin a detoxification program in an effort to flush the toxins, repair your blood cells and save your organs. There are a few small non-profit groups that offer financial help to get tested and treatment. Their detox programs are relatively inexpensive. The Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) is a good source for information on blood testing and a detoxification program. LEAN was of great assistance to the members of EcoRigs. Please go to www.leanweb.org for more information on these subjects.
Laboratory that performs blood VOC analysis:
Metametrix Clinical Laboratory
3425 Corporate Way
Duluth, Georgia 30096