The Gulf Oil Spill Water Quality Impact
Everyone has been warned to avoid the oil spill in the Gulf and all of its affected areas. Since chemicals can come into contact with the body by breathing them in, how should expectant mothers and those with infants protect themselves and their families from these harmful fumes?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has concluded so far that there are no harmful levels of chemicals being released from the Gulf spill at the moment. They do acknowledge that there is a possibility for these chemicals to cause harm to expectant mothers and infants in certain situations.
At this point the EPA is monitoring the air quality on a daily basis to make sure that no chemicals from oil vapors are reaching critical levels. If you live in close proximity to affected areas you may want to protect yourself from potential harm by using an air filtration system in your home.
Of special concern is the technique clean-up crews are using to dispose of the oil. The oil is being burned off the surface of the water in an attempt to keep it from reaching shores. The result of this is that particulate matter, made of tiny particles and droplets, is released into the surrounding areas. It is possible for this particulate matter to be inhaled with the smallest particles settling deeply within the lungs.
While the efforts of the CDC and clean-up crews are commendable as they closely monitor the burning and carefully watch weather, wind, and water conditions, realistically this does not eliminate the possibility of some chemicals and particulate matter reaching coastal areas.
There is a strong smell around the areas affected by the oil spill which can cause headaches and nausea in pregnant women. It is advised that they stay indoors and set their air conditioners to reuse indoor air. Parents will also want to take this precaution with infants. Another suggestion is using a high quality air filtration system to counteract the smell and potentially harmful air inside of their homes.
Other chemicals to be concerned about are oil dispersants which are being used to break up oil slicks. When these come into contact with a person and are breathed in they can cause nausea, vomiting, and lung and throat irritation. While it is unlikely that undiluted dispersants will reach the shore and cause harm it remains a possibility. At the moment the CDC continues to monitor air quality and has not detected dangerous levels that could cause harm to a pregnant woman or her unborn child.
An air filtration system inside your home can filter out any threatening fumes and chemicals that may enter. Even if there are no obvious odors it can still prove to be a safeguard against even small amounts of irritants in the air. This is especially of importance to expectant mothers who live in coastal areas affected by the oil spill as inhalation of certain substances can cause birth defects and pregnancy and delivery complications. Parents can also take steps to protect their infants from Gulf oil spill air pollution from inhaling anything that can be damaging to their health and development.
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