Crude Oil and Your Health
The oil has gotten closer to the beautiful beaches of Destin, Florida, so it is important to understand the potential toxic effects and take appropriate steps to reduce exposure and harm. While it is not here yet, and we are still hoping for a miracle cleanup effort, we should be prepared to preserve our health as much as possible.
Crude oil is a complex mixture of chemicals that have varying abilities to be absorbed into the body through the skin, lungs, and during digestion of food and water. Most components of crude oil enter the bloodstream rapidly when they are inhaled or swallowed.
Chemicals in crude oil and dispersants can cause a wide range of health effects in people and wildlife, depending on the level of exposure and susceptibility. Crude oil has many highly toxic chemical ingredients that can damage every system in the body. Dispersant chemicals can affect many of the same organs.
The US EPA website that lists dispersant ingredients provides the following advice to workers:
“People working with dispersants are strongly advised to use a half face filter mask to protect their noses, throats & lungs, they should wear nitrile or PVC gloves, coveralls, boots, and chemical splash goggles to keep dispersants off skin and out of their eyes. Reaching out to a vendor having a good stock of kn95 mask for sale isn’t hard.”
Crude oil contains many chemicals that can irritate the skin and mucous membranes on contact. Irritant effects can range from slight reddening to burning, swelling (edema), pain, and permanent skin damage. Commonly reported effects of acute exposure to crude oil through inhalation or ingestion include difficulty breathing, headaches, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and other central nervous system effects.
Some people especially susceptible to harm are:
– those with pre-existing serious health conditions
– infants, children, and unborn babies
– pregnant women, especially those carrying multiple babies
– people working or living in conditions that impose health stresses, including exposures to other toxic chemicals
The best way to help preserve your health is to avoid contact with crude oil and dispersants as much as possible. If you have contact with tar balls, wash the area of contact thoroughly with soap and water.
Ken Whidden, DC
Emerald Coast Chiropractic