Blood Tests Show Elevated Level of Toxic Hydrocarbons in Gulf Residents

George Washington's picture

Washington’s Blog


A number of different chemists are finding elevated levels of toxic hydrocarbons in the bloodstream of Gulf coast residents.

What is most disturbing about these results is that people who simply live near
the water are showing higher than normal levels of toxic chemicals.
These are not fishermen, shrimpers, oil workers or others who work on the water.

Jerry Cope recently wrote about his test results in a must-read essay at Huffington Post.

Several Gulf coast residents described their test results in the following video:

And the Intel Hub has uploaded some of the other test reports.

The local ABC news affiliate in Pensacola, Florida - ABC3 Wear - covered the story:

Several residents of Orange Beach say the oil spill has been making them sick...and they have the test results to prove it.

Cope, Margaret Carrouth and Robin Young were all feeling the same
symptoms of headaches, watery eyes, and breathing problems...

All three had blood samples taken at the beginning of August...

Tests revealed each had elevated levels of the Hydrocarbons Ethyl Benzene and Xylene.

Bob Naman, a chemist out of Mobile, analyzed the results.

"He shows three times the amount you typically find in someone's blood."

people are from different backgrounds, and from different walks of
life, all showing same similar organic compounds in blood, says to me
its very likely in the air."

Background levels of these chemicals were taken from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control's Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals.

It is well known that oil fires can increase the levels of ethyl benzene and xylene in people's bloodstream. For example, in studying Gulf War illness, the National Defense Research Institute found
that exposure to the Kuwaiti oil fires set by Saddam Hussein increased
ethyl benzene levels in firefighters more than 10 times - from .052 to
.53 micrograms per liter - and more than doubled xylene levels:


Table 3.6
VOC Concentrations in Blood in U.S. Personnel


VOC Kuwait City Personnel
(Group I)
(Group II)
U.S. Reference
Benzene 0.035 0.18 0.066
Ethyl-benzene 0.075 0.53 0.052
m,p-Xylene 0.14 0.41 0.18
o-Xylene 0.096 0.26 0.10
Toluene 0.24 1.5 0.30

A geochemist from East Carolina University - who was awarded
a grant from the National Science Foundation - says that evaporation
and storms can carry toxic hydrocarbons from the Gulf oil and
dispersants inland:

YouTube Video

There have been previous reports of  spill-related toxins becoming airborne. For example, as National Public Radio notes, Orange Beach city geologist Mark White and others found oil which was apparently airborne.

And New Orleans news channel WDSU noted in July:

Smith's team has also conducted air monitoring tests. What
they found [were] high levels of chemicals like benzene and hexane
coming from dispersants.

And even BP admitted back in June elevated levels of ethyl benzene and xylene offshore. See this and this.

In addition, as I noted last week, scientists have found that applying Corexit to Gulf crude oil releases 35 times more toxic chemicals into the water column than would be released with crude alone.

it possible that the massive application of Corexit dispersant is
creating a situation analogous to ongoing oil fires: ongoing release of
large quantities of toxic components of crude oil?

is important not to be alarmist about the dangers of the oil/dispersant
mixture to human health, but it is equally important to fully study the
issue, and not to let politics get in the way of science.

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Trifecta Man's picture

What a unique way to make the Social Security fund last longer.  Poisoning the older folks with all those Gulf hydrocarbons and gases.  No wonder the government does not want to take a hard line on BP.

Dr. Sandi's picture

How many pints of tainted blood would need to be processed to get a gallon of unleaded?

woolly mammoth's picture

sick. People are being hurt.

Dr. Sandi's picture

sick. People are being hurt.

There's a sign on the front of ZH on the way in:

"You must be at least this tall >>>> to ride Zero Hedge."

This is not to be mean, it's for your protection.

School's out, Satch!

blindman's picture

Katrina lays bare Superfund woes

Concern rises that storm may have compromised cleanup of toxic sites around New Orleans - and created new ones.

By Brad Knickerbocker, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / September 15, 2005


Several Superfund sites in the New Orleans area were inundated by hurricane Katrina and the flooding that followed. The most worrisome is the Agriculture Street Landfill, located about halfway between the French Quarter and Lake Pontchartrain. For nearly a century, municipal garbage and industrial wastes accumulated there. It was loaded with lead, arsenic, dioxin and carcinogenic hydrocarbons and later sprayed with the now-banned pesticide DDT. Underground fires gave it the nickname "Dante's Inferno."

The 95-acre site eventually was "remediated" under Superfund - fenced off and covered with a mat barrier and two feet of clean soil. As was the case with Love Canal, local residents continued to complain of health problems.

Today, the EPA and other agencies are investigating whether several feet of rushing floodwaters from the storm and from the collapsed Industrial Canal Levee very close to the former landfill spread the hazardous wastes from that downtown site across a much wider area. Other Superfund sites near New Orleans in Slidell, La., and Madisonville, La., also sustained flooding and there is concern two sites in neighboring Mississippi counties also have water damage.

"The potential for contaminants to rise and migrate through the flood waters to other areas is real," Solid Waste & Recycling magazine reported this week. "It's likely that the multimillion-dollar site restoration conducted a few years ago has been compromised, perhaps even rendered worthless."

Congress and the Bush administration are sure to address hazardous waste cleanup as part of the massive federal response to Katrina.


.But they're also faced with renewed scrutiny of the whole Superfund program. The industry tax fund ran out of money when Congress refused to renew it in 1995. Assigning blame among multiple polluters and subsequent property owners has been difficult."The program is not getting the funding it needs," says Alex Fidis, an attorney specializing in Superfund for the US Public Interest Research Group in Washington. "The problems are still there and if anything are getting worse."


The experience with Katrina tells some observers that dealing with hazardous waste sites may need a different approach - especially in areas vulnerable to forces of nature. "There needs to be a greater emphasis on cleanups that are really cleanups and not just covering it up," says Ed Hopkins, director of environmental quality programs for the Sierra Club in Washington. "But of course that involves money.".


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Bagbalm's picture

So what were the levels in donated blood before the spill?

Easy to check.

Djirk's picture

It still costs less to fill up my Hummer in the US than any non OPEC country....vrooom

Lucky Guesst's picture

Thanks George, its nice hearing the truth even if it is bad news.

I just can't believe the same EPA that has been screaming that cow farts are killing the planet is being so silent and vague on such a significant environmental danger to U.S. citizens and our marine life. What a sad evil joke on the people who's taxes actually pay for the EPA's existence. 

IMO the people living near the Gulf have been just as victomized as those hurt on 9/11 and during the Katrina fiasco. If the agencies that we fund cannot take an immediate dangers more seriously than a hypothetical one, they are not to be trusted and do not deserve to be funded!!!

russki standart's picture

Lucky Guesst, I can believe it... the EPA swine are whoring for the elitist corporate scum that really control the US. They worry about cow farts because their masters rattled their chain and told them to bark. Unfortunately the people living near the Gulf will suffer the same fate as the 911 responders, who were told by the same swinish EPA that the air at ground zero was non toxic. Few things would make me happier than to see this parasitical organization dismembered, with  the senior staff tossed out on their keisters and/or sent to jail.

tony bonn's picture

the board of bp and its senior executive management should be tried and executed for crimes against humanity....the filth occupying that company are the most repugnantly repulsive slime on the planet....they are liars and murderers...

Ruffcut's picture

These bastards will go at nothing to lie and deny, anything is wrong in the dead gulf.

It is election season, so the health and welfare of our citizens come second, to the shitter.

They will be branded complainers and bitchers.

If they actually did cap the well, then everyone thinks the crisis is over.  I have not bought that theory, at all.

You can print money to "fix" the financial fraudsters issues, but you can't cover up a massive mess of poison.

Or can you?

Democracy, my ass!

Grand Supercycle's picture

DOW/S&P500/FTSE/EURO short signal continues :

RockyRacoon's picture

That has fuck-all to do with Toxic Hydrocarbons.

Miles Kendig's picture

We can only hope for a change..  I might suggest this as an option for the Grand Supercycle resident spammer

Dr. Sandi's picture

SuperPsycho the spamming asshat is back, but at least he changed his avatar to something easier to spot and junk.

bigkahuna's picture

When the "news" only reports blatantly incredible information, where do you go for the real story? Zerohedge!

willien1derland's picture

George W - You are the best - thank you for your continued research on this subject - It is greatly appreciated, informative, & deeply disturbing that our beloved Government ignores the impact to the people of the Gulf - you should compile your articles into a book - just ensure you do not schedule your book signings with Tony Blair - I do not want you to be injured!

Mad Mad Woman's picture

Thank you GW.  What's going to happen with these people? Is BP and the government going to let them all die? Is that stuff STILL in the air? This is the 2nd part of the disaster, with many more parts to follow I'm sure.

Rusty Shorts's picture

George, I would like to see you put together a piece on peak oil, start here with Colin Campbell's series on peak oil, it's a bit long, 13 parts, but one of the best I've seen.


Youtube channel =


BTW, thanks for your efforts!!

pemdas's picture

No doubt if BP did not use corexit, there would be another group of scientists saying they should have.

Miles Kendig's picture

Feeling the long term love from nonperson persons....

MsCreant's picture

Feeling the Love Miles, feeling the Love. Makes the "Love Shack" into a whole new beast.

Miles Kendig's picture

Without question.  Most especially when TPTB so transparently demonstrate a total lack of respect for the LCC's of life as what passes for parasitic symbiosis remains the dominate force in many human affairs.

Ripped Chunk's picture

Ahh the nostalgia. One of the first great Superfund Sites !!!!

Sudden Debt's picture

I think all the American people should pay a extra eco tax because they clearly need to take responsibility and also a extra weiner tax to support those poor BP executive who now suffer from a moral distress sickness thing.


MsCreant's picture

Gulf oil spill trolls, where are you? Come out, come out and defend your masters!!! This should be good.

Miles Kendig's picture

It's all lies..

what is said is a lie
what is given is a lie
what is done is a lie
what goes is a lie
(the lie....)
a lie is a lie
the truth is a lie
what cooks below

the darkness is a lie...

truont's picture

BP has declared "Mission Accomplished".

The BP PR-bloggers have gone home...

Species8472's picture

So what's the before readings? No before readings = no cause and effect.


M4570D0N's picture

Pretty much. That whole correlation ≠ causation thing. Without information about their readings prior to the spill, nothing substantial can be established, nor can any legitimate conclusion be drawn.

RockyRacoon's picture

Radiation readings after an atomic blast would be thus invalid.

nevadan's picture

Elevated levels of toxins are being found in residents blood --as compared to what?  The point is if one is going to use science to form an opinion then the approach needs to be scientific.  Raw data without a baseline with which to compare it to is just raw data.  The real question is how much of this stuff is already in the general population and hasn't been identified before now since no one seems to have been looking for it.  The HuffPost piece pretty strongly implies that the powers that be actively discourage looking at this information.  It is entirely possible that there has been elevated levels present before BP but the level of toxicity has not been high enough for the acute symptoms to manifest.  If this ever gets into the courts you can bet that pre-existing levels will be an issue and BP will do their best to demonstrate that they are just the most recent contributor to the problem.  Since this data does not seem to exist then it gives BP cover for some degree of liability.

I am in no way minimizing BP's responsibility for what they did.  Empirical evidence is quite sufficient that the magnitude of the  problem is primarily of their doing.  Personally I have always thought that the dispersants were going to cause a bigger problem than just letting the crude go.  At least if it was on the surface there would be some chance of collecting it.  The  industrial attitude is that the solution to pollution is dilution so dispersants are the easiest way to make the problem appear to go away.  So the "best" approach was to add to the problem.

RockyRacoon's picture

I agree that correlation does not presuppose causation, but my point is that common sense must prevail at some juncture.  I should have expanded that in my comment.

nevadan's picture

In a quick scan of the documents I see the study focuses on age, gender, and ethnicity but no breakdown by geographic location.  These chemicals have been in general use for quite some time in the gulf so it has to be assumed that some background level was present in elevated amounts in the gulf coast residents.  I'd be interested in seeing an analysis of before and after as well as regional comparisons.  Too be sure, the environmental levels now are astronomically higher than usual.  But not all the present findings should be attributed to BP.  Cause and effect is there but to what degree?

LostWages's picture

Thanks GW.

For all those waiting to sue BP, please take a number. 

The next number available is 2,354,775. 

Now serving number 12, number 12 please.

Ahmeexnal's picture

Seems like number 12 commited suicide. 3 shots in the back of the head. Number 11 drowned himself. NEEEEEEEEXT.

Ripped Chunk's picture

I'll have a pound and a half of shut down liver and a pint of those brain lesions.


taraxias's picture

Thank you for continuing to inform on this important story GW.

schoolsout's picture

Jesus...why is BP not BK yet?

Moneygrove's picture

maybe thats why they vote for the gop ??????????

hidingfromhelis's picture

If you give enough BJ's to the GOP and Dem's, then you're TBTF.  SNAFU.