June 8, 2010
Most of the health troubles suffered by Gulf of Mexico cleanup crews have been caused by heat exhaustion, not exposure to crude oil or chemical dispersants, Louisiana health officials say.
"Heat-related complaints are really our biggest concern right now," Lisa Faust, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Hospitals, told AOL News today. "We're seeing a lot of workers now with heat-related illnesses, and we want to encourage them to take the right precautions, because it's hot out there."
The Environmental Protection Agency is performing air testing and, through last week, did not find dangerous levels of oil-related chemicals. The agency said people can smell the oil long before the air reaches levels that could cause short-term health problems.
George Cobb, professor of environmental toxicology at Texas Tech University, said it's tough to predict how workers will be affected by oil fumes because people's sensitivity can vary greatly.