Essay on Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico

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The coastal areas of the Mississippi Delta – already imperiled by the enduring effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita – are once again threatened by disaster. Unlike the devastating natural disasters of 2005, the threat this time is man-made. On April 20, 2010, an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon killed eleven crewmen. The resulting fire could not be extinguished and, on April 22, 2010, Deepwater Horizon sank, leaving its oil well gushing and causing the largest offshore oil spill in United States history. While the deeply human tragedy is already readily apparent – 11 dead and 17 injured – the full ramifications of the Deepwater Horizon disaster have yet to be realized. Beyond the economic and environmental impact, the Deepwater …show more content…
Already, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals has reported 71 spill-related illnesses to the CDC. Fifty of the illnesses, with symptoms ranging from respiratory distress to dizziness, came from workers directly involved in the cleanup of the spill. Perhaps more troubling is that 21 of the illnesses came from amongst the general public in coastal areas. Public health officials have their hands full with threats that must be mitigated. Foremost, workers involved in the cleanup effort must be protected from harm. OSHA warns workers of at least 12 potential threats to worker safety in its “Deepwater Horizon/Mississippi Canyon 252 Oil Spill” fact sheet. The CDC and the EPA are also monitoring water and air quality, water and beach safety in coastal areas, in an effort to protect the general public. Even more concerning is the possible effect the spill could have on the food supply, which – if realized – could send the effects of the oil spill coast-to-coast or even internationally. The public health impact of oil spills is not new. Crude oil contains benzene, toluene, and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, all of which are carcinogens. In addition, crude oil also contains mercury and lead, which can be dangerous if inhaled or swallowed. Following the Exxon Valdez disaster, 11,000 workers involved in the cleanup made 5600 visits to health

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