In today's article, Human Blood Tests Show Dangerous Levels of Toxic Exposure, filmmaker Jerry Cope revealed, "For the first time blood tests on sickened humans have shown signs of exposure to high levels of toxic chemicals related to crude oil and dispersants. Some of the individuals tested have not been on the beaches, were not involved in any cleanup operations or in the Gulf water -- they simply live along the Gulf Coast."
Cope is one of those sickened humans.
He wrote that the problems began within the first few days of his teams mid-July arrival in the Gulf: "[While] touring the lagoons around Orange Beach, Alabama, we all had extreme headaches... That evening I developed a gagging, coughing reflex that was so intense and persistent it was impossible to speak to my daughter on the phone. The symptoms typical for high levels of chemical exposure such as burning, itching eyes, constantly runny nose, chronic coughing, burning sore throat, chest congestion, and lethargy progressively intensified. Over the next several weeks these symptoms continued to worsen until I developed chemically-induced pneumonitis."
Cope credits several of the groups doing tremendous work along the Gulf Coast for facilitating the tests, "The musical activists Sassafrass and the tireless efforts of Michelle Nix allowed myself and several local residents to have blood drawn and tested by Metametrix for chemical exposure. Project Gulf Impact and the Coastal Heritage Society have also contributed greatly to air and water testing in the Gulf region affected by the spill. Project Gulf Impact has set up a dedicated medical help phone line at 504-814-0283."
After going over the results with Metametrix, Cope sat down with Dr. Michael R. Harbut, MD, MPH, director of the Environmental Cancer Program at the Karmanos Cancer Institute and former chairman of the Occupational and Environmental medicine section of the American College of Chest Physicians, to discuss the findings:
COPE: I have been working mainly in the Orange Beach/Gulf Shores area of Alabama, and that's where I got sick. ...
HARBUT: [Y]ou had no Benzene but a lot of Hexane and a couple of Hexane metabolites... Hexane causes what is called a dying back neuropathy, meaning the nerve cells in the arms and legs die back from the distal tips to the proximal end... It shows that you have Hexane and Hexane metabolites and also Octane in your blood, then...to go about treating you, which is usually... treating the end organ damage. End organ damage meaning we know if you inhale this stuff, if you have it in your system, it will damage your nerves... you look for end organ damage rather than the presence of a solvent because the solvent could have evaporated after it has already whacked the brain or whacked the liver.
COPE: I spoke to the founder of Metametrix... He indicated that the Benzene would not show up for very long once you were exposed but that the other compounds, the Ethylbenzene, m. p.-Xylene, the Hexane, which was way high, the Methylpentanes and the Isooctane, all of those things indicated to him that we were exposed to significant amounts of Benzene.
HARBUT: That's what I would think, too.
Read Cope's article here.