The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) just announced:
For the seafood to pose a health risk, the food would have to be heavily contaminated with oil, and would therefore have a strong odor and taste of oil.
That is patently untrue.
As I pointed out in June:
As Bloomberg notes:
“Oil is a complex mixture containing substances like benzene, heavy metals, arsenic, and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons — all known to cause human health problems such as cancer, birth defects or miscarriages,” said Kenneth Olden, founding dean of New York’s CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College, who is monitoring a panel on possible delayed effects.
Corexit breaks oil down into its constituent chemicals. So there could easily be toxic levels in the compounds that don’t smell anything like oil.
For example, arsenic is odorless. So fish contaminated with arsenic will not smell or taste like oil.
As McClatchy notes today:
The Gulf of Mexico oil spill still poses threats to human health and seafood safety, according to a study published Monday by the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Medical Association.
In the short term, study co-author Gina Solomon voiced greatest concern for shrimp, oysters, crabs and other invertebrates she says are have difficulty clearing their systems of dangerous polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) similar to those found in cigarette smoke and soot. Solomon is an MD and public health expert in the department of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco.
In the longer term, she expressed worries about big fin fish such as tuna, swordfish and mackerel, saying levels of mercury from the oil might slowly increase over time by being consumed by fish lower in the food chain and becoming concentrating in the larger fish.
As time goes on, she said, doctors may be warning pregnant women and children to strictly limit the amount of such fish they eat. Some of the fish had relatively high levels of mercury even before the oil spill, she said.
Moreover, Corexit is itself toxic. Many of the ingredients of Corexit are either odorless and tasteless or have very different smells and tastes from oil. For example, Corexit contains propylene glycol, which is nearly odorless, with a faintly sweet taste. And some versions of Corexit contain 2-butoxyethanol which has a fruity rather than petroleum-like smell.
Finally, Corexit interacts with crude oil to form new compounds. No one has thoroughly studied the range of new compounds which might be formed by the interaction of Corexit with crude oil, let alone what they taste or smell like.
And see this.
In addition, NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco says that oil doesn’t bioaccumulate in fish, and that fish naturally “degrade and process” the oil:
However, as the above-quoted article by the Journal of the American Medical Association states:
Shrimp, oysters, crabs and other invertebrates … have difficulty clearing their systems of dangerous polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) ….
Accumulation of PAHs occurs in all marine organisms.
Benzene, toluene, arsenic, heavy metals and many other components of crude oil also bioaccumulate. Indeed, researcher Bob Kibler recently found benzene levels 1,000 times higher than allowed in the mud of Louisiana’s Four Bayou Pass, which will bioaccumulate in the oysters, shrimp and other marine organisms (starting around 2:30 into video):
In addition, NOAA admitted in Congressional testimony that dispersants may bioaccumulate.
Finally, Lubchenco says that we can be assured that Gulf seafood is safe because only fishing areas which are free of oil are being reopened.