June 10th, 2010
11:18 AM ET

How will the oil spill affect my health?

Dr. Sanjay Gupta | BIO
AC360° Contributor
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent

As a feature of CNNhealth.com, our team of expert doctors will answer readers' questions. Here are several questions related to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico for Dr. Gupta.

From Jacque, Mobile, Alabama

"What health problems could the dispersant Corexit cause? I still don't understand why BP continues to use it."


Jacque, that's an interesting question. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of Corexit dispersants have been sprayed into the oil slick since April. It's banned in many countries including Great Britain. But it's approved by the EPA here in the U.S., despite the fact that it has been rated less effective and more toxic than many other EPA-approved dispersants. A lot of people know that now.

I talked to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson about that very thing and pointed out there's a list of 18 dispersants, and out of that list, this is one of the most toxic. It's unclear why BP continues to use it. Jackson said the EPA has encouraged BP to stop using this particular substance.

I found the product information sheet on the website of the manufacturer of this dispersant. It's says it's classified as a hazardous substance, and it says you have to use adequate ventilation and certainly use some sort of mask or breathing apparatus when applying it.

That certainly raises concerns when we see pictures of people working on the oil slick without any breathing protection.

From Doug, Memphis, Tennessee

"What are the risks to all the seafood that comes out of the Gulf? Could it be tainted?"

Keep reading...

Filed under: Gulf Oil Spill • Sanjay Gupta
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