Big Problems with Toxicity Limits


Some of us are no doubt reassured to hear that certain poisons in our seafood are below federal levels, but what if the federal levels are simply pegged too high? The Natural Resources Defense Council is warning that may, in fact, be the case.

In commentary published by the Journal of the American Medical Association – based on a look at seafood testing by the FDA – the Council warned that levels of heavier toxic substances can kill marine life at levels well below federally set limits.

Senior scientists at the Council noted both the effects of crude oil’s lighter chemicals, which are released into the air once the oil reaches the ocean surface. They stress that the “volatile aromatic hydrocarbons” can cause breathing problems as well as harm the central nervous system – and benzene exposure has been linked to leukemia, and toluene to birth defects, to name a couple of the more vicious chemicals.

The study also notes that “hundreds of cleanup workers reported headaches, vomiting, trouble breathing and chest pain” – all possible symptoms of exposure to the airborne chemicals. But the report also outlines how heavier parts of crude, the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that can poison fish and shellfish, settle into the sea and enter the food chain.

The study is out of California and the L.A. Times has a good story on it here: utm_campaign=Feed%3A+GreenspaceEnvironmentBlog+%28Greenspace%29

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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