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Chemist Says Hundreds of Thousands of Gulf Coast Residents Sick from Oil Spill

By Rhonda Miller | Published 06 Dec 2011 01:28am | comments
Scott Milroy and Wilma Subra are speakers at the Science of the Spill: The Emerging Impacts of the BP Oil Disaster in Biloxi.

Some scientists say the long-term impact of the BP oil spill is unknown. Others, at a forum called the Science of the Spill at Biloxi Civic Center Monday night, told MPB’s Rhonda Miller the health impact of the spill is here and people are sick.

Louisiana chemist Wilma Subra works with community groups on environmental issues. In May and June of 2011, she did a regional health survey with Immaculate Heart Community Development Corporation in Lucedale, Mississippi. The results confirmed what she’s found in other studies she’s done in states all along the Gulf Coast since the BP oil spill.

"There’s a whole population that’s very sick and doesn’t have access to medical care, and that’s what we’ve been trying to work on now, from the very beginning, is getting them medical care so they will get better," says Subra. "How many people do you think we’re talking about, do we have any guess?"  "Hundreds of thousands along the whole coastal area," Subra says. "Hundreds of thousands of people?" "That are sick, yes."

Thirty-one-year-old Chris Landry of D’Iberville knows he’s sick from working on the oil spill clean-up for year. He said his health problems began when he stepped on an oil-soaked nail during the clean-up in Gulfport.

"A couple of weeks after that, it went from bronchitis to upper respiratory infection, and running 104 fever and nothing would break it," Landry says. "You know, that’s how it started off. And all of that went away and I started urinating the color of tea, and my kidneys started hurting, then the cramps in the stomach came, then the headaches, then the neurological problems." "Like what neurological problems?"  "Seizures, stuttering real bad."

 At the Gulf Coast Research Lab in Ocean Springs Monday, Interim Director Jeff Lotz says the oil spill is a complex issue that needs scientific research and peer review.

"I mean, I don’t think we know for sure what the long-term effects of the oil spill are going to be. But although people are reporting higher levels of oil components in some of the fish and other organisms in the Gulf, I don’t think that any of them are coming to the levels that would be a concern that FDA has, for example," says Lotz.

Lotz says scientists at the lab are working on several projects, including the possible toxic effects of the oil and dispersants on marine life, including Gulf sturgeon, crabs and shrimp.

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Scott Milroy and Wilma Subra are speakers at the Science of the Spill: The Emerging Impacts of the BP Oil Disaster in Biloxi.


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