Entries in Sick (3)


Gulf Oil Spill: Fishermen Say They Are Sick from Cleanup

U.S. Coast Guard via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, an army of fishermen, 10,000 strong, joined the cleanup effort. Today, almost a year after the spill, many say they are suffering from debilitating health effects that studies suggest are consistent with prolonged exposure to chemicals in oil.

An ABC News investigation found that many workers were told they did not need respirators -- advice BP received from the government -- and that no government agency tested the air the workers were breathing out at sea until a month after the spill.

BP continues to insist that "no one should be concerned about their health being harmed by the oil." In fact, BP says, "The monitoring results showed that the levels generally were similar to background conditions -- in other words, concentrations that would have been expected before or in the absence of the spill."

Tell that to Todd Rook, age 45, who says he had pneumonia four times in the last eight months and never once before the oil spill. Or to Malcolm Coco, 42, who says he has had blood in his urine and suffered from chest pains and memory loss.

BP hired fishermen as part of the Vessels of Opportunity Program, where they took their own boats out to sea to stop the oil before it hit the shore. There were more than 3,000 of these boats out there -- that's more than 10,000 proud fishermen riding through the oil, burning it, skimming it, laying down those booms, for hours and days -- sometimes weeks out at sea without coming home -- all to save their precious waters and livelihood.

And now they're speaking out for the first time, but they may just be the latest victims of oil spills. Only two weeks ago, a major study in the New England Journal of Medicine reviewed 26 studies from the eight biggest oil spills around the world. And in a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Gina Solomon, co-director of the Occupational and Environmental Health Program at the University of California, San Francisco says, "The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico poses direct threats to human health from inhalation or dermal contact with the oil and dispersant chemicals."

Respiratory symptoms aren't surprising to medical experts contacted by ABC News. In a 2002 spill off the coast of Spain, cleanup workers were twice as likely to have breathing problems as non-cleanup workers were. In another study, workers who worked more than twenty days on the oil were four times as likely to have breathing problems.

There are over 200 chemicals in oil, some more dangerous than others. One of them is benzene -- a Group 1 carcinogen according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It is in the same class as radioactive iodine, arsenic, and asbestos.

Dr. Michael Harbut, an oncologist who sees Gulf patients, said, "I think there's a fairly high likelihood that we'll see some increase in some cancers in some of the populations with exposure to the chemicals." Harbut is director of the Environmental Cancer Program at the Karmanos Cancer Institute.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner Home After Surgery

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was discharged from a Washington, D.C., hospital Friday night after undergoing what was referred to by his spokesman as a “minor” procedure to treat a kidney stone.

“He is feeling much better and has been on the phone dialing staff this morning,” Treasury spokesman Steve Adamske said in a statement Saturday.

Geithner is expected to return to work on Monday.

He was originally expected to remain hospitalized overnight.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Company Defends Its Caffeinated Booze After Students Sickened

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(ELLENSBURG, Wash.) -- The company behind a controversial caffeinated alcoholic beverage that's being blamed for sickening dozens of Central Washington University students said it was the mixing of alcohol and possibly drugs that caused them to become seriously ill.

The aftermath of the party, where police found students passed out all over the house and rushed nine to the hospital, has renewed calls for bans on the drink Four Loko, which combines as much alcohol as a six-pack of beer and the equivalent of several cups of coffee.

Four Loko manufacturer Phusion Projects defended its product in a statement to ABC News, pointing to seven labels on the can warning of the drink's contents and calling attention to the need for identification to purchase.

Authorities who responded to the party said the students were in such bad condition they initially were believed to be the victims of the date rape drug. But police said Monday that toxicology tests on the students found no evidence of drug use.

Police called to the scene of the house party, in Rosyln, Wash., about 30 miles from the university, found young people -- many of them women -- passed out throughout the house and on the front lawn. Police were immediately suspicious that drugs were involved, but interviews with the students and toxicology tests ruled out drugs, police said.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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