Following the April 20th BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, there has been growing concern over the health risks posed to cleanup workers, as well as the potential long-term effects to Gulf Coast residents and marine life. As of June 24th, 425 oil exposure calls have been placed to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. These calls are characterized by someone being exposed to oil, dispersant, food contamination, or any other associated toxins. A Fox News report states that of the 100+ oil-spill illnesses reported in Louisiana, 74 of them concerned clean-up workers hired by BP.
To support relief efforts, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is collecting samples and monitoring air, water, and beach conditions to determine potential health risks to the public and the environment. Currently, air quality levels for ozone and particulates are normal for the summer months in the Gulf. However, the EPA has observed some odor-causing pollutants associated with oil at low levels in the Gulf Coast region. These toxins can cause short-term effects such as headaches, eye, nose and throat irritation, or even nausea. As oil and toxic fumes from burning oil make their way toward the shore, experts are unsure of the potential damage that may ensue for residents and cleanup workers.
A health advisory alert issued by the state of Florida urges Gulf Coast residents to stay indoors as much as possible to avoid exposure to the toxic fumes. While indoors, an air purifier can add an extra line of defense to protect your home or boat cabin from harmful fumes. Air purifiers designed to tackle tough odors and chemicals have robust filtration systems that often include HEPA filters and activated carbon filters. For example, the IQAir GC Multigas air purifier targets a broad range of gaseous compounds, odors, particles, and smoke. Using a HEPA-type filter, 12 pounds of granular activated carbon, and impregnated alumina, the IQAir Multigas air purifier effectively filters out chemical traces and odors stemming from compounds such acetic acid, ethyl acetate, methanol, sulfur trioxide, and much more. These air purifiers are great for keeping your indoor air clean and your family healthy.
For more information about the EPA’s monitoring efforts, to check the quality of your air, or to find out ways that you can help, visit EPA.gov.