Traces of the BP oil spill that occurred from the April 10, 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, were found in the zooplankton, which is part of the marine food chain. According to studies, this finding presents a hazard for the gulf food chain and possibly human health.
Dr. Michael Roman of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science said, “Traces of oil in the zooplankton prove that they had contact with the oil and the likelihood that oil compounds may be working their way up the food chain.”
Zooplankton are key components of marine ecosystems forming the base of most marine food webs. Studies have confirmed that oil contaminants were still entering the food chain as late as a month after the Macondo well was capped.
Mercury, lead and copper are heavy metal toxins that were found in the spilled oil. These toxins pose potential health risks to humans through the food chain.
New Jersey News Room reports:
The first health concerns after the spill were about skin contact with the oil, or inhaling its chemical compounds that can cause cancer. Dr. Gina Solomon of the National Resources Defense Council told Businessweek in 2010, “The risks include acute health effects from the air pollution from the oil itself. It also includes health effects from burning the oil and it also includes contamination of the food chain which can result in long-term health concerns.”
After the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska back in 1989, 11,000 clean-up workers were estimated to have made 5,600 visits to health clinics for upper respiratory ailments. The solvent used in cleaning that spill was limonene, which can cause asthma and skin inflammation.