William Rea, MD, who founded the Environmental Health Center-Dallas, treated a number of sick Exxon Valdez cleanup workers. He once told me, “When you have sick people and sick animals, and they are sick because of the same chemical, that’s the strongest evidence possible that that chemical is a problem.”
It’s not just skin rashes and blisters. At community forums, I commonly hear from adults and children with persistent coughs, stuffy sinuses, headaches, burning eyes, sore throats, ear bleeds, and fatigue. These symptoms are consistent across the four Gulf states that I have visited. Further, the symptoms of respiratory problems, central nervous system distress, and skin irritation are consistent with overexposure to crude oil through the two primary routes of exposure: inhalation and skin contact.