Dealing with the sh** – Why You Should Support HR3562 by : Cherri Foytlin

My Grandma Gracie used to tell me if something was sh**, call it sh**, (she had a way with words, that lady). Well, I am coming to you today from what is my opinion, a warm, steaming pile.


I’m speaking of the continuing use of dispersants as a remedy for oil spills, as is part of the National Contingency plan – meaning this affects you, wherever you live. God forbid an “incident” of oil leakage in your local waters should occur, even at much smaller amount than we have seen in the Gulf, because there is a good possibility they are going to spray toxic chemicals on it.


Consider this a warning to you and your community, if that should happen there is a good chance that a portion of your population will get sick, there is a chance that some may die.


I know that sounds scary, even fatalistic, and I wish it weren’t true. But based on what we are seeing here in the Gulf, it is.


You may not have heard, in fact you probably haven’t, but contrary to the Center for Disease control’s website, found here , which states that “most people in coastal areas are not coming into direct contact with oil spill dispersants,” we are.



I guess since the CDC hasn’t been on the ground here really since September 2010, they may not know, but one needn‘t look farther than the citizen investigative journalist photos of Charles Taylor, Laurel Lockemy, Denise Rednour, Shirley Tillman, Betty Doud,  Mac Mackenzie, Lorrie Williams, and others, to know that we have that peanut buttery stuff coming up all along the coastline.


The page, which doesn’t seem to have been updated in quite a while, goes on to advise visitors to “stay away from cleanup activities.”


Now that’s a funny thing to say, since the oil and dispersant toxic cocktail still trespasses our beaches and marshes on a daily basis. How many photos have we seen, from the summer of 2010 until now, of tourists sunbathing and playing with clean-up workers in Tyvek suits working within feet from them?


If you doubt the effects to health still being experienced by clean-up workers and visitors alike, feel free to check out testimony collected by the Louisiana Environmental Action Network. You can start with video affidavit from Chris Landry and Stephen Aquinaga, found here .




I have yet to understand how a chemical can be innocent until proven guilty, but that seems to be the case concerning the use of chemical dispersants in our waters. At least that’s what the government and BP would like us to believe.


While they keep telling us that there is not enough information to tell whether people really are sick from the use of dispersants, it is a hard sell to coastal men, women and children who are still suffering headaches, rashes, seizures, respiratory issues, “brain fog,”  heart palpitations, abdominal pain, miscarriages, eye troubles, mental health issues, ect.


According to this post on, , regarding the issue, “Potential human health effects include burning skin, difficulty breathing, headaches, heart palpitations, dizzines, confusion and nausea..”



It goes on to say, “Since the 1970s, it has been known that application of dispersants to oil spills increases toxicity by increasing oil and hydrocarbon exposure to water column species.”

I’m no scientist, but I figure it’s safe to assume that an increase in toxicity to one species, is an increase in toxicity to all species.


The truth is that they knew that these symptoms may occur to a part of the human population as early as 81 days into the spill. According to this report by Keith Olbermann,  , BP had released a report at that time, “finding that 20 percent of offshore (clean-up) workers and 15 percent of near shore (clean-up) workers had 10 parts per million of the dispersant solvent called 2-Butoxyethanol, twice the toxicity limit of 5 parts per million dictated by the CDC’s National Institute on Occupation Health and Safety.”



And what would you suppose is listed as potential symptoms from 2-Butoxyethanol on the OSHA website? Found here, the page reads that potential maladies include, “eye, nose throat and skin irritation, cough, hemolytic, hematuria, anemia, central nervous system depression, dizziness, drowsiness, lightheadedness, unconsciousness; headache, vomiting; pulmonary edema; eye redness, pain, blurred vision; liver and kidney damage;… abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea; metabolic acidosis..”



The site further explains that this one ingredient can affect the organs, “eye, skin, respiratory system, CNS, hematopoietic system, blood, kidneys, liver (and) lymphoid system.”


Not sure it is right to do so, but I wish that 2-butoxyethanol was all we had to worry about. According to environmental law firm, Earth Justice, 5 of the 57 ingredients found in the dispersants being used in the Gulf of Mexico to combat oil spills have been linked to cancer.


Those ingredients, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request regarding Corexit 9500 and 9527 (Nalco/Exxon) include:


– Amides, coco, N,N-N-bis(hydroxyethyl)


– Cyclohexene, 1-methyl-4-(1-mthylethenyl) -, (4R)


– Ethanol, 2-butoxy


– Petroleum distillates, hydrotreated light


Symptoms for the last of these five carcinogens include “dizziness, headache, nausea, drowsiness, and unconsciousness and prolonged inhalation of high concentrations may damage respiratory symptoms.” For more information please go to the link,



I’m just wondering how many symptom lists a person’s symptoms have to appear on, before they are taken seriously.


But don’t worry, perhaps in a decade we will know the truth. The NIEHS’ Gulf Study is under way now. And as one Mississippi clean-up worker and resident explained, “Ten years from now we should have some idea of what we died of.” For more info, or to sign up, please go to


We tend to agree with Earthjustice attorney, Marianne Engelman Lado’s statement, “The testing can’t be done in the moment of the disaster. It has to be done ahead of time..”


If there is a clean spot in the manure pile it comes from H.R. 3562 Ban Toxic Dispersants Act of 2011. This bill, found here , would ban dispersants until further testing can be done to prove that the use of these chemicals is safe for humanity and the ecosystem, (which in my opinion, is one in the same).



Please go to this new Gulf Change initiative found here  for information on how you can help to get this important piece of legislature passed – for all of our sakes.


In addition, a petition has been created through Care2, which can be found here—ban-toxic-dispersants-act-of-2011/


I guess I am really asking you to grab a shovel. The simple truth is, it’s time for us to dig in, and move past all this sh**, both for a healthy world and for a hope for a thriving future.


Faithfully yours,


Cherri Foytlin

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