I just ran across this story by Maya Rodriguez  of  WWL4 – Eyewitness News  in Louisiana, that peaked my curiosity.

Did you catch the response from the chemist, who is a local environmental consultant?

Wilma Subra, a chemist who heads up a lab and environmental consulting firm in New Iberia, said the numbers she’s been analyzing give her pause.

“They’re there at a little over the levels that you would expect to start getting those health impacts,” Subra said. “So, that is of concern, that the people understand what is there and understand if they start getting the health impacts, they should take precautions to move out of the area.”

Those who should pay particular attention are the young, the elderly or those who already have underlying breathing problems. Experts said anyone experiencing symptoms of exposure to those chemicals, should see their doctor.

After watching the video, I decided to see if any Mainstream News Media had picked up the story. Guess what I found? The usual tone-deaf  blah, blah and more blah.

So for the record here’s what the Environmental Protection Agency has to say on the subject:

EPA is concerned about the potential for long-term health problems related to the spill. To better understand what potential there may be for long-term health effects, EPA has been monitoring the air for 2 classes of toxic compounds that may evaporate from the oil: volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs).

EPA is monitoring for these pollutants because they are present in oil and, at elevated concentrations, could potentially cause some health problems.

Currently, EPA is evaluating the potential for health problems that may result from these pollutants if a person were to breathe the measured pollutant levels continuously (24 hours a day, seven days a week) for up to a year.

Based on the monitoring of both VOCs and SVOCs that EPA has done so far, we have not seen shoreline levels that are of significant concern for long-term health effects.

We will continue to monitor for these pollutants and evaluate them to see if the measured concentrations may pose an increased risk of long-term health problems.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs):VOCs tend to evaporate quickly from the freshly spilled oil. People can also be exposed to these chemicals from auto and truck exhaust, petroleum refineries, and numerous other industrial and mobile sources.

EPA is checking levels of VOCs along the Gulf Coast in two ways. The first is through hourly monitoring of total VOCs. Monitoring of total VOCs allows EPA to gauge if there is any immediate health concern from the compounds being emitted from the spill, and it can indicate areas where additional checking might be necessary. To date, the total VOC monitoring has not detected any levels of immediate concern.

The second way EPA is checking VOCs is through sampling of benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, and xylene. These are the VOCs in crude oil that have the greatest potential to cause or contribute to long-term health risks when inhaled. Long-term exposure to benzene and ethylbenzene has the potential to cause cancer. Toluene and xylene can affect the nervous system. Monitoring at this time does not indicate that there is a significant concern for long-term health effects.

These chemicals are also emitted by many other sources, such as motor vehicles, industries, and paints or solvents. The monitors cannot determine where the VOCs originate. VOC levels in the air around the monitors could be coming from the oil spill or from other sources. EPA has not seen unusual or elevated levels or any trends that suggest that VOC emissions from the spill are reaching on-shore areas.

Historical data on oil spills indicate that VOCs are likely to evaporate, disperse and/or react quickly after the oil reaches the surface of the water. This may be why we are seeing relatively low VOC levels on land.

Semi-Volatile Organic Compounds (SVOCs):SVOCs can be present in oil that has spent time in the ocean and eventually reaches shore. This oil is commonly called ‘weathered oil’.

SVOCs present in the weathered oil evaporate slowly over a period of weeks or months. SVOCs can be formed when oil is burned.

SVOCs come from other sources as well. They are formed during the incomplete burning of gas, coal, garbage, or other organic substances and from motor vehicle exhaust.

EPA is monitoring for the following SVOCs: benzo(a)pyrene, benzo(a)anthracene, benzo(b)fluoranthene, benzo(k) fluoranthene, chrysene, dibenz(a,h)anthracene, inideno(1,2,3-cd)pyrene, naphthalene. These SVOCs have the potential to cause cancer. Monitoring the shoreline at this time does not indicate that there is a significant concern for long-term health effects.

The monitors cannot determine where the SVOCs originate. SVOC levels in the air around the monitors could be coming from the oil, or from other sources.

Does it really matter where the toxic levels are coming from at this point? Moreover, why isn’t BP being made to address the health issues caused by the emissions and resulting particulate matter? Maybe its because the information given to the general public is from people like Luann White who get their paycheck  from federally funded center’s.

“The levels have not been that high. Is it something we want out there? Absolutely not. But it’s pretty far offshore,” said Luann White, director of the Tulane Center for Applied Environmental Public Health.

Public health? My A**. I’m just saying.