Toxic Effects of Crude Oil Spills
The Gulf oil spill is more than just a big mess, and a waste of fuel.
I have wondered how the Revelation horses of famine and death would manifest.
At first, I assumed drought and general illness. This is also possible.
But, if there is no clean water for animals and people, or they are breathing in toxins, then death will quickly come as well.
Anyhow, that is just a thought.
I assembled some general chemical information about the toxins in crude oil for you to read.
The crude oil spill is not just a big mess. It is also a danger to health.
Dangers of crude oil ingredients:
This product (crude oil) is not listed as a carcinogen. However, Benzene and some PAHs are listed by the IARC, OSHA and NTP as carcinogens.
Summary of Chronic Hazards contained in crude oil:
This product contains Benzene, which is associated with various blood disorders, anemias, and leukemia in humans, and PAHs, which have been shown to produce skin tumors in laboratory animals after prolonged and repeated skin contact.
The exact relationship between these results and possible human effects is not known.
Personnel with pre-existing central nervous system disease, skin disorder, chronic respiratory disease, or impaired liver or kidney function should avoid exposures to this product.
Benzene * 3458, 3159 a CARCINOGEN, causes leukemia & other cancers; can cause aplastic anemia: aplastic anemia is a failure of the blood-cell forming capacity of the bone marrow that affects all blood-cell types: a reduction in all types of blood cells: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets
n-Hexane * 1982, 2126, 1360 a neurotoxin,
C(6)H(14) n-Hexane *
R11 Highly flammable
R20 Harmful by inhalation
R36 Irritating to eyes.
R37 Irritating to respiratory system.
R38 Irritating to skin.
R48 Danger of serious damage to health by prolonged exposure.
R62 Risk of impaired fertility.
Toxic compounds and seafood
Aromatic compounds in the dissolved fraction of oil are more dangerous to humans potentially because they are more soluble in water and can contaminate sealife and seafoods more readily than many other components in oil.
About 99% of these aromatic hydrocarbons are benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, xylene (all 4 are termed the BTEX group); other substitued benzenes, and the 2- to 3- ringed PAHs (fluorene, naphthalene, dibenzothiophene, anthracene and various substitued analogues of these compounds).
Toxic compounds in drinking water and air
If the fish get sick, so will we.
Benzene evaporates into air very quickly and dissolves slightly in water.
Benzene is highly flammable.
Most people can begin to smell benzene in air at 1.5-4.7 parts of benzene per million parts of air (ppm) and smell benzene in water at 2 ppm.
Most people can begin to taste benzene in water at 0.5-4.5 ppm.
One part per million is approximately equal to one drop in 40 gallons.
Benzene can pass into air from water and soil surfaces.
Once in the air, benzene reacts with other chemicals and breaks down within a few days.
Benzene in the air can also be deposited on the ground by rain or snow.
Benzene in water and soil breaks down more slowly.
Benzene is slightly soluble in water and can pass through the soil into underground water.
Benzene in the environment does not build up in plants or animals.
Benzene can enter your body through your lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and across your skin.
When you are exposed to high levels of benzene in air, about half of the benzene you breathe in passes through the lining of your lungs and enters your bloodstream.
When you are exposed to benzene in food or drink, most of the benzene you take in by mouth passes through the lining of your gastrointestinal tract and enters your bloodstream.
A small amount will enter your body by passing through your skin and into your bloodstream during skin contact with benzene or benzene-containing products.
Once in the bloodstream, benzene travels throughout your body and can be temporarily stored in the bone marrow and fat.
Benzene is converted to products, called metabolites, in the liver and bone marrow.
Some of the harmful effects of benzene exposure are caused by these metabolites.
Most of the metabolites of benzene leave the body in the urine within 48 hours after exposure.
Brief exposure (5-10 minutes) to very high levels of benzene in air (10,000-20,000 ppm) can result in death.
Lower levels (700-3,000 ppm) can cause drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heart rate, headaches, tremors, confusion, and unconsciousness.
In most cases, people will stop feeling these effects when they are no longer exposed and begin to breathe fresh air.
Eating foods or drinking liquids containing high levels of benzene can cause vomiting, irritation of the stomach, dizziness, sleepiness, convulsions, rapid heart rate, coma, and death.
It is possible to experience benzene exposure to crude oil. A way to avoid this is through protective equipment. However, the general pubic does not wear protective equipment.
What to do
If not contained, this spill could be carried by currents to other countries.
Avoid areas that are conspicuously contaminated.
I am not an expert, but I would suggest having stored, sealed, clean water on hand.
Also if you like seafood, check the origin of the seafood before you buy it, and then store and freeze it for later eating.
In the meantime, hopefully, this oil spill will be gotten under control, and there will be no harm to health.