Oil Spill Study – Respiratory Problems with Volunteers

From the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine…This is a study on the volunteers of the 2002 Prestige Oil Spill.   – MMU (via Zuna Surf).


6 Responses

  1. I woke with a sore throat and painfully congested sinuses after a 3 hour oil pickup that involved a couple inadvertent whiffs of the oil smeared on my gloves.

    I will be wearing a respirator on my next collection.

  2. My eyes are burning. There are red rashes on portions of my hands that accidentally came into contact with the oil. I didn’t sleep all night last night. I have an interior headache unlike any headache I have ever felt before. I feel dizzy and disoriented. I worked about 3 hours on Sunday and walked the beach about 2 hours on Friday.

  3. I cleaned the beach on Friday mid-day and most of the afternoon Saturday.

    My eyes were burning on Saturday, and my face was itchy. And now, on Wednesday, I am sitting at work with severely congested sinuses. My symptoms sound very similar to MM’s headache above.

    Get well you guys.

  4. Update on my health in case this helps others trying to find a pattern – today is Wed 11/14, last clean for me was Sun, my eyes are 50% better, headache is less, but I find it hard to breathe, it feels like I am not getting oxygen, and I have some sinus symptoms, still dizzy. I haven’t been to a doctor b/c I can’t imagine what they’d be able to do to solve this, hoping it’ll get better over time. I had very little physical contact with oil (though I didn’t have those blue gloves but I felt no oil on my hands through the yellow gloves), this is all from inhalation/air exposure, so I’m not clear on why the official/approved method for cleaning involves no respiratory protection.

  5. MM, sadly the reason why the official method involves no respiratory protection is the same reason why they’re not allowing informed volunteers to help. Fear of litigation. Suggesting a respirator would legally assume a whole kettle of liability. Glad to hear you’re feeling better! I’d say ‘you’ll be fine’, but I don’t want to be sued.
    There you have it folks, wear a respirator! Most folks may not need it, but you don’t want to find you’re one who does.

  6. I picked up a lot of oil around Sloat on Friday morning, when it was still cookie to pancake sized blobs. I wore blue nitrile gloves, trashed a pair of jeans, and sat with a garbage bag full of the stuff in my hatchback as I drove it down to Sunset Scavanger’s household hazardous waste dropoff (this was before any government agency had done jack on Ocean Beach). I also bothered to read the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for #6 Bunker Fuel oil (available in about 4 seconds online) paying particularly close attention to toxicological notations. Additionally, I compared it with the very similar MSDS for asphalt (the next heaviest distillate in crude oil comprised of many of the same problematic components such as hydrogen sulfide and polycyclic hyrdocarbons)– the danger from asphalt and bunker oil are in many ways similar. Also, bear in mind that the strongest petrochemical odor in my corner of the Outer Sunset this last week (where I live very close to the beach) has been from hot asphalt from several households redoing their roofs and not from the oil spill.

    I suffered no acute symptoms, not even a headache after knocking back an entire bottle of wine of Friday night out of depression from the bizarre official response to the spill, though I certainly don’t mean to discount that some people are more sensitive. Additionally most of the accute symptoms (rashes for instance) would be by all acsounts I’ve seen temporary. The most dangerous component from an accute human health viewpoint is apparently hydrogen sulfide gas, also one of the most volatile, much of it was probably already in the atmosphere for all of us to enjoy before the CG even announced the spill and, in general, is a much greater danger to people in an enclosed space, not the windy beach front.

    I’m no expert and I’m certainly not anyone official, but I’m not an idiot and I already live in California’s rich milieu of carcinogens. Basically, one needs to use judgement around this stuff… keep it off your skin, out of your mouth and don’t climb into an enclosed space like a holding tank without a respirator. Remove yourself from the situation and get to cleaner air if you feel any odd affects. I certainly wouldn’t go around it if I was pregnant, for instance. But that said, the very real danger here is to the environment, aquatic life bathing in the stuff and long term exposure… not walking on the beach picking it up.

    Again, I don’t mean to belittle anyone’s very real symptoms or the real and nasty hazards of #6 bunker fuel. But my not entirely uneducated hunch is that most officials *oversold* the toxic effects on people in an attempt to keep them away, probably for the same reason Steveo suggests, litigation.

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