May 262010

Last weekend I finally got around to seeing the movie Alice In Wonderland.  While I haven’t quite fallen down the same rabbit hole as Alice did, in case you’re wondering where I’ve been for the last day or so, the answer is researching the implications for reproductive health of the gulf oil disaster. One of the problems with this topic is that what isn’t known is a lot more clear than what is known, so it is a daunting task, but one that I think needs to be addressed.

Earlier this week, the Boston Globe published a picture of a woman and her children using a hose to fill wading pools on the beach along the Gulf. Clearly she thought that would be safe since they were not actually going in the water.  But in reality, it probably wasn’t and while the loss of tourism is going to be a huge financial blow to the region, steps should be taken immediately to protect human health, particularly the most vulnerable. Via NRDC, here are some basic recommendations for children and pregnant women in the gulf area:

Are there risks to pregnant women?

Some of the volatile chemicals in oil have been linked to miscarriage, preterm birth and low birth weight, so it is a good idea for pregnant women to avoid the areas where there are elevated levels of VOCs in the air.  These are areas that include noticeable smells of oil or visible oil and also any areas where the EPA monitoring system detects elevated levels. The EPA air monitoring results are being updated regularly at To be cautious, pregnant women may choose to avoid any areas directly along the waterfront and beachfront, even when oil is not visible.

What about risks to children?

Young children should not be allowed near the beach where they could come into direct contact with the oil. Other than this, recommendations for children are the same as for adults.

I will be addressing this topic in much greater detail in the next week, so if blogging is sparse in the meantime, that is the reason why.

 May 26, 2010  Posted by on May 26, 2010

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