What are the long-term health effects of volunteering to help with the BP oil spill clean-up effort? Should I have a respirator?
Thousands of volunteers are helping clean up the damage to the Gulf Coast caused by the BP oil spill. Those efforts are commendable, but those workers may be placing their health at risk.
Response workers can be exposed to hazardous substances related to the oil spill by breathing vapors or oils, swallowing contaminated water, or coming into skin contact with oil or other chemicals.
Oil is a toxic substance and can be harmful if handled improperly, though for most people, brief contact with a small amount of oil will not cause any lasting harm. Oil is not the only risk -- response workers may be exposed to chemical dispersants. Workers on boats where the oil plumes are rising to the surface are at the highest risk of coming into contact with chemical dispersants and harmful vapors.
Any volunteer should receive special training about the proper way to clean up and dispose of oil. Volunteers also must be trained to rescue and care for injured wildlife. Workers and volunteers should be provided with the appropriate tools, equipment and protective clothing needed to perform their tasks.
Respirators may be appropriate for workers assigned to certain tasks such as mixing and spraying dispersants and monitoring fires, based on the type and level of exposure to toxic chemicals. But respirators are not appropriate in every case because they can add to heat stress for workers.
Federal worker safety officials are monitoring worker exposures to determine levels of exposure to crude oil, dispersants and cleaning agents that are likely to cause ill health effects.
The unprecedented harm of the BP spill will continue to affect property, business and the environment for years to come. The Oil Spill Task Force, sponsored by Arnold & Itkin LLP, coordinates the financial, legal and investigative resources needed to represent the claims of businesses and individuals whose livelihoods and property are threatened by the BP oil spill.
To discuss your case, call the lawyers of Arnold & Itkin LLP at 888-498-8212 or use our online contact form. We focus on representing your financial interests in claims against BP.
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