Concerns rise over air quality in Gulf

by Dege Legg

Concerns ramp up over air quality and toxicity levels along the Gulf.

As we enter into day 83 of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and workers attempt to put a new containment cap over the spewing Deepwater Horizon well, many residents and organizations are ramping up their concerns over air quality in the Gulf states and general toxicity levels of those exposed to dispersant Corexit.

Although the EPA has been monitoring air quality with stationary and mobile labs in the Gulf Coast and continues to assure people that air pollutants from the spill found in minute quantities do not pose a health hazard, many individuals are taking matters into their own hands. Groups like BP Makes Me Sick Coalition, composed of progressive online organizers, local bloggers, politicians, and other public figures, are organizing a Tea Party-style, grassroots movement focused on protecting clean-up workers - many of whom have been discouraged from wearing "bad publicity-related" respirators along the Gulf Coast.

The EPA says air along specific spots of the Gulf Coast only poses a risk to people "unusually sensitive to low-quality air." However, with weekly reports of the high toxicity of Corexit, the main dispersant being used in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill cleanup, concerns of frustrated residents, fishermen and farmers along the Gulf are not likely to disappear any time soon.