The Gulf spill - fertility connection

oil slick

Blogger Corey Whelan who posts for the AFA Blog elaborated on a little talked about side effect of the Gulf Spill: potential infertility.

Thousands of people are being exposed to both airborne and waterborne chemical toxins as a result of the growing spill. More will be exposed as the slick travels closer to eastern Gulf borders. Crude oil contains hundred of chemicals not limited to benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These chemicals can easily get airborne and once they do, can touch the lives of people many miles away. It is unknown at this point how far the chemicals could go and in what concentrations.

Even the chemicals being used to clean up the spill are toxic. Of grave concern to Whelan are the dispersant chemicals. She points out that the composition of the dispersants have not been made public as they are protected by competitive trade laws. While there may be little information on the health hazards associated with the dispersants, some reasonable assumptions are being made. It is assumed that Corexit is being used. Corexit includes 2-butoxyethanol which is associated with infertility when exposed to high concentrations. Whelan points to another dispersant that is most likely being used called petroleum distillate which poses health hazards when aspirated.

This exposure may pose serious long term affects to reproductive health especially for men and women of reproductive age and even younger. Symptoms may not be seen or noticed for many years, or until direct experience with infertility occurs. The toxicity of crude oil is such that it can damage every system in the body. Whelan points to a CDC report from 1999 that states “interference with normal growth and development through endocrine disruption, and direct damage to fetal tissue, can be caused by many crude oil ingredients”. As a result, pregnant women and their developing fetusus are at obvious risk.

While there is controversy, especially since little is known about the actual chemicals being released and in what amount, health experts agree that no exposure should be considered safe at this time.

Sources: AFA, CDC


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