Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Profits, Pollution and Politics

Thomas Riggins

While the big oil companies and the government collude to get more off shore oil rigs up and running, scientists are busy warning us of the dangers to human health and well being of the pollution that inevitably comes with off shore drilling.

On May 1 of this year ScienceDaily published an article warning of the danger to fetal development from chemicals found in crude oil: SD 5-1-2011 "Chemical Found in Crude Oil Linked to Congenital Heart Disease: Fetal Exposure to Solvents May Damage Heart."

Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) is one of the biggest causes of death in children and can be a chronic life long condition. A scientific study carried out by Dr. D. Gale McCarver and published by the American Academy of Pediatrics indicates that up to 82% of children studied may have had fetal exposure to the chemicals in crude oil and to other oil based solvents.

Two of the many (there are seventeen or so deadly chemicals involved) that could cause abnormal heart development in a fetus are ethyl benzene and trichloroethylene (TCE).

Fetuses can be contaminated with ethyl benzene by exposure to crude oil in spills such as the gigantic spill caused by BP in the Gulf of Mexico or the one caused by Exxon in Alaska by the wreck of the Exxon Valdez. Besides oil spills, fetal contamination can occur by a woman breathing car emissions, gasoline vapors or tobacco smoke.

We also have to be on guard against TCE which is found at hazardous waste dumps as well as in commercial products (spot removers, degreasers, and other types of cleaning products.

It is not only CHF that can be traced back to these oil products. An earlier report in SD, "Biomedical Scientist Concerned About Effects of Oil Spill on Human Health" (6-25-2010) detailed warnings from Professor Bongsup Cho, a leading researcher funded by the American Cancer Society and National Institutes of Health regarding the chemicals in the tar balls found along the coast and out to sea in the Gulf as a result of the BP oil spill.

These tar balls are contaminated with the same cancer causing chemicals found in tobacco smoke and diesel exhaust. Professor Cho is worried about their effect on wildlife and animals in the food chain and what can happen to humans when they are exposed to them-- either in nature or in the food chain (eating fish or shrimp, for example.)

These chemicals, besides being carcinogens, can also cause DNA mutations and birth defects. Professor Cho thinks that "orange sheen" is another potential human health hazard. This is the sheen covering much of the Gulf as a result the chemical interaction of crude oil and the chemicals used by the oil companies to disperse it.

With all these deadly chemicals being dumped in the environment scientists are being prevented from even finding out what many of them are , there are some 80,000 of them, because the capitalist corporations are more interested in their profits that in people and the government PERMITS them to keep secret some of the chemicals they are dumping [what we don't know can't hurt us!]. Professor Cho says, with regard to orange sheen, that "nobody knows what's in that color [he means nobody outside of the oil companies] and how toxic the chemicals are. Companies keep the chemical makeup of the dispersants secret."

Its about the time our government started forcing these private capitalist corporations to take more interest in protecting people and the environment. Nationalizing them and letting the workers run them would be a good first step.

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