Remember when BP was responsible for horrible things, and then they plugged the hole and we moved on to worrying about other horrible things? Things are still horrible! The chemical they used to break down oil is making people ill.
Al Jazeera investigated the current chemical state of the Gulf, and found that the at least 1.9 million gallons of dispersant BP used to fix the spill have combined withcrude oil to make something worse—which is washing ashore and causing a lot of human sickness. As the oil breaks down, poly-aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are being released—chemicals Al Jazeera identifies as “arcinogenic, mutagenic, and teratogenic.” Think of this as releasing a pack of foxes to attack a beehive, and then the foxes come back covered in bees and jump all over you.
And it’s going to be hard to avoid this stuff, says one expert. “The dispersants are being added to the water and are causing chemical compounds to become water soluble, which is then given off into the air, so it is coming down as rain, in addition to being in the water and beaches of these areas of the Gulf,” explains Bob Naman of the Analytical Chemical Testing Lab in Mobile, Alabama.
In the meantime, people are suffering. Badly. Like, brown pee badly: “I started to vomit brown, and my pee was brown also,” says one Gulf resident. “I kept that up all day. Then I had a night of sweating and non-stop diarrhea unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.” Phrases like “non-stop diarrhea” are usually quite funny, but to add a wave of human sickness to an already horrific environmental catastrophe is just horrid. How much more can one even despise a company like BP? Though, if their reputation has already been thoroughly dragged through the mud, it looks like they’ve come up with a substance even worse than that. [Al Jazeera via Boing Boing]