BP = “Benzene Pollutants”
By A. True Ott, PhD
Picture from a previous (Exxon Valdez) oil spill
What is unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico is truly a nightmare of epic proportions. Untold millions (if not billions) of gallons of raw crude oil, mixed with natural gas has been spewing (not spilling) into the pristine waters of the Gulf of Mexico for over a month. All efforts to plug the massive leak have ended in abject failure. Sadly, the “mainstream media” is failing to accurately report the substantial health risks the massive oil geyser is posing to all coastal residents.
Raw crude oil is naturally loaded with a petrochemical called benzene. Unfortunately, several regulatory agencies (e.g., the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], and the International Agency for Research on Cancer) classify benzene as a confirmed human carcinogen (CHC). In other words, benzene causes cancer and other chronic disease states.
This paper will review the dangers of benzene exposure, and offer solutions to help detoxify the body following exposure – either via the air, or by seawater, or rain and precipitation in contact with the skin.
The first question most people ask is: “How much benzene exposure is safe?” The answer is: “There is no minimum safe amount. ”According to one online resource, (the Leukemia Info Center) - “Documented cases of benzene-related blood diseases date back to before the turn of the 20th Century. The relationship between benzene and leukemia was first reported in 1928. In 1948, the American Petroleum Institute published a report linking benzene exposure to leukemia, concluding that the only safe level of benzene exposure is no exposure at all. Since that date, various studies have demonstrated that a number of trades – including plastics workers, painters, gasoline distribution workers, petroleum refinery workers, chemical workers, rubber workers, and printing press operators -- have an increased risk of developing leukemia and other blood cancers and blood disorders as a result of their work-related exposure to benzene.”
So sorry to break the news, but the unvarnished truth is that if you can smell raw crude, and if the rain and ocean mists are oily, rest assured you are being exposed to dangerous cancer-causing levels of benzene molecules. Studies have linked benzene exposure in the mere parts per billion (ppb) range to terminal leukemia, Hodgkins lymphoma, and other blood and immune system diseases within 5-15 years of exposure. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set a permissible exposure limit of 1part of benzene per million parts of air (1ppm) in the work place during an 8-hour workday, 40-hour workweek. The short term exposure limit for airborne benzene is a mere 5ppm for 15 minutes. Typically, if one can smell raw crude oil that has evaporated into the air from a massive oil spill, the OSHA safe limits for “short term exposure” have been massively exceeded.
Furthermore, according to Wikipedia, “The short term breathing of high levels of benzene can result in death, while low level inhalation can cause drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heart rate, headaches, tremors, confusion, and unconsciousness. Eating or drinking foods containing high levels of benzene (sea food affected by a crude oil spill for instance) can cause vomiting, irritation of the stomach, dizziness, sleepiness, convulsions, and death.” Get the picture?? This is very, very serious business not only for the flora and fauna of the Gulf coast states, but also for human residents. Reports of “oily rain” originating over the massive plume could mean that drinking water could become contaminated with toxic benzene as well.
It is therefore, a very good idea to implement a plan for detoxification of benzene.