With the giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico now in its sixth week, reports of clean-up workers falling ill are on the rise.
“Within the past week, we’ve seen a number of workers hospitalized. That’s new,” said Dr. Gina Solomon, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council.
More than a dozen workers have been treated at local medical centers for flu-like symptoms ranging from chest pain to dizziness, nausea and headaches, presumably due to exposure to different chemicals emanating from the slick, according to news reports.
The Unified Command in Louisiana— a coalition of government agencies that includes the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of the Interior and the National Parks Service — last week called back to shore 125 boats helping with the clean-up after medical complaints from crewmembers.
“The reports that we’ve heard from hospitals and doctors have been (that the symptoms are due to) inhaled irritant exposure, but they’ve not gone so far as to say what exactly they think the responsible agent might be,” Solomon said. “The workers are widely blaming the dispersants.”