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Workers cleaning up the BP oil spill claim toxic exposure

Over 100 people across four states including Louisiana have become ill after being involved in the cleanup of the Deep Horizon oil spill. They believe their illness is caused by toxic exposure to the chemicals BP used to clean up the spill. The main chemical believed to be the culprit is called "Corexit," which is a chemical dispersant.

The chemical was pumped into the oil escaping from the floor of the sea and sprayed by airplanes over the surface of the water. Cleanup workers say the chemical was sprayed directly onto them numerous times. Not only did it cause workers to cough, but the chemical also burned their skin.

Workers now suffer from symptoms similar to those recorded by soldiers returning from the Gulf War in 1991. Many people are suffering from a seizure-like condition, fatigue, irritability and memory loss just to name a few of the symptoms. One has begun chronicling his deteriorating condition on video.

This man has indicated that he should have been given certain safety equipment to minimize if not eliminate their exposure to Corexit. Safety glasses, particle masks or "organic vapor" masks, and "solvent resistant" gloves should have been standard safety equipment for the workers. One worker claims that when he asked for this or equivalent equipment, he was given a standard paper mask and some rubber gloves -- neither of which was adequate protection.

It is incumbent on every Louisiana employer to provide a safe work environment for all of its employees, especially is there is a possibility of toxic exposure to certain chemicals. In the instant case, BP insists that cleanup workers were given the proper training and equipment which was approved by OSHA and NOISH. The company also insists that every aspect of the cleanup, including the use of Corexit was approved. A settlement of the workers' claims is said to be woefully lacking. Any worker that is exposed to hazardous chemicals on the job may want to make sure they are being provided with suitable safety equipment and training before beginning work.

Source: wwltv.com, "Some oil spill cleanup workers say exposure to chemicals left them sick," Dennis Woltering, May 16, 2013

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