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Dynamic Chiropractic – October 7, 2010, Vol. 28, Issue 21

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The Gulf Oil Spill: A Toxic Soup Harming Our Patients

Dear Editor:

The Gulf oil spill is now months old and former BP CEO Tony Hayward has been banished to Siberia by his superiors.

The well has been capped and oil is (apparently) no longer gushing into the ocean. In fact, Gulf public health departments are now allowing people to swim; after all, it must be clean now since not much can be seen in the water.

Wrong! The oil has been mixed with dispersants from the very beginning. Millions of gallons of the Corexit dispersant (one of most toxic dispersants known) have been used, even after the request to discontinue by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Few have considered the human risk from this disaster. Everyone can see the destruction and death caused to the fauna and flora of the Gulf coast, yet no one wants to discuss the human health hazards affecting local residents and the hundreds of individuals involved with the cleanup efforts. Many have been hospitalized without any notoriety because BP has not allowed the individuals working for them to be reported as health casualties. And the public doesn't understand the symptoms.

Crude oil gives off toxic fumes: benzene, methane, sulfur dioxide and other hydrocarbons. In addition to that, BP dumped the dispersant (Corexit), the detergent-like brew of solvents, surfactants and other compounds known to cause health problems, in with the oil. Now we have a big toxic concoction of chemicals - a toxic soup.

Remember, it isn't just marine animals that are impacted by dispersants; humans are at risk, too. Exposure to the toxic compounds, even in miniscule amounts (e.g., by breathing) may cause flu-like symptoms, asthma, cough, sore throat, central nervous system effects, nausea, vomiting, and anesthetic or narcotic effects. Excessive exposure of 2-butoxyethanol (an active ingredient) may cause injury to red blood cells (hemolysis), the kidneys or the liver. Prolonged and/or repeated exposure through inhalation or extensive skin contact with EGBE (2-butoxyethanol) may result in damage to the blood and kidneys.

This occurs like a stealth attack, without anyone knowing it's happening in many cases. The benzene level, for example, that can be ingested without any detrimental human effects is about 5 ppm (parts per million); the level that has been given off in some parts of the Gulf Coast is as high as 3,000 ppm.

Thousands have breathed in cadmium, mercury and other toxins without knowing it. The damage is being caused because most people are not aware of the air quality they are breathing. The water quality will also be affected because of the airflow currents bringing the toxins on shore and depositing them across the Gulf states and farther inland. 

With the air temperature rising this summer, the toxins have evaporated faster into the atmosphere and been carried with the air currents. Yes, some of the toxins have dissipated and will continue to do so with time and distance, but not before hundreds are sick, experiencing nausea, vomiting, respiratory problems, etc. If any of your patients have a compromised immune system and are affected, it could even be fatal.

Practice prevention has never been more important. All patients in the affected areas should be urged to visit their chiropractor for a complete checkup. You should also offer nutritional support to help strengthen their immune, respiratory and digestive systems. The toxic soup is still boiling; be willing to do something about it when so many others have stood idly by.

John Stump, DC
Fairhope, Ala.

Squandering Billions in Health Care Dollars

Dear Editor:

Billions upon billions are squandered on "unhealthy" health care and will continue to be squandered for two simple reasons: 1. Governments need the huge income-tax revenues from the millions of salaries involved in the druggie business (multi-faceted/multi-layered office staff, nurses, physician's assistants, specialists in complicated cases, drug reps, drug scientists, drug manufacturing technicians, etc.), whereas the income tax revenues from the chiropractic world are, in comparison, minimal, and therefore unable to support a society's financial requirements. 2. Healthier people live longer and eat up more government pension and Medicare dollars. So, if the individual lives a live of subpar health and is forever bailing themselves out of a health crisis ("see your doctor") by seeking "relief" only, their depleted life resources will eventually catch up and bump them off at 73 years (or younger) instead of 97 or 104 years. That's a lot of unpensioned-out pension contributions that could perhaps keep the social security system solvent for a few more years.

Richard Hargreaves, DC
Bellingham, Wash.

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