New Delhi: The nightmare involving the Chennai oil spill seems to get even frightening and upsetting with medical doctors issuing warnings about serious health hazards on those who helped clean the toxic sludge following the collision between two ships last month.
As per reports, a team of doctors and members of the Healthy Energy Initiative, India, has urged the government to continuously assess the health of all those involved in the clean-up operation, including the crew, fisherfolk and residents.
In its report on the health impact of oil spill, the fact-finding team said that it found a number of workers and residents complaining of various health issues, including skin, eye and throat irritation, tightness in the chest, cough, headaches, nausea and vomiting.Read More »
In the aftermath of the Ennore oil spill, a fact-finding report revealed that the health of those deployed for the clean-up operations, fishermen and residents, has been compromised due to handling the hazardous sludge without proper protective gear.
Chennai: A team of medical doctors spoke to more than 50 persons on the morning of February 7, interacting with clean-up crews of the Indian Coast Guard, fishermen, workers from the Fire and Rescue Services and Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC), apart from residents, including the elderly population, women and school students. The survey of the clean-up workers and coastal inhabitants reported increased acute toxic symptoms, primarily of the ocular (eye irritation) and respiratory symptoms (throat irritation, chest tightness and cough). The study also revealed other reported symptoms such as headache, nausea and vomiting. Some reported of skin irritation in exposed parts of the body.
The use of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during the oil spill clean-up was missing, as people used only rubber gloves and boots. “Some of the workers were wearing short sleeves or shorts. The gloves and boots were insufficient to save the skin. No worker was found to be wearing certified respirator masks suitable for such situations.
The Coast Guard had better protection with full coveralls when compared to the fishermen, who barely had any. There was no separate washing area, where workers could clean the oil before eating or drinking water, which increased the exposure. We didn’t see any international best practices being followed,” said Shweta Narayanan, Coordinator, Healthy Energy Initiative, which had published this report.
Ideally, considering the toxicity of the sludge, the best practice should include cordoning off the space. “Vulnerable people should be evacuated; health advisory should be put out and environmental sampling should be done. But the first environmental sampling came 25 days after the spill,” she said.
Eye-irritation and respiratory symptoms were some of the immediate effects reported following the oil-spill
CHENNAI: Three weeks after the massive oil spill cause by the collision of two ships near Kamarajar Port, a team of medical doctors have warned that those who helped clean the toxic sludge may suffer from serious health problems.
A fact-finding team, which included three doctors, met more than 50 people, who helped in the clean-up operations on February 7, 2017. “We came to know that many volunteers were participating in the oil clean-up process so we wanted to find out if there were appropriate steps taken for the safety of the volunteers,” said Dr Shruthee SG, a member of the fact-finding team.
“The clean-up workers and the fishermen reported increased acute toxic systems primarily that of eye-irritation and respiratory symptoms like throat irritation chest tightness and cough, mainly on the first two days after the oil spill,” said Dr Shruthee.
In the long-term, she warned that the chemicals in the oil could lead to cancer. “The most commonly occurring chemicals in the oil include Benzene, Toluene and Xylene (BTX). BTX are carcinogenic in human beings. Benzene is known to cause leukemia in humans, toluene can cause kidney and liver damage, and exposure to Xylene can lead to visual blurring, tremors, heart beat irregularities, paralysis,” observed Dr Amaran M, another member of the fact-finding team.Read More »
Those engaged in the clean up without protective gear have higher chances of contracting cancer: Report
The team comprising three physicians had conducted a field study at Bharathi Nagar
Those engaged in the clean-up without protective gear have higher chances of being afflicted by cancer, a report said
CHENNAI: Raising an alarm over the hazards faced by workers involved in the massive clean-up operations following last month’s oil spill in the city, a fact-finding team has urged the government to closely monitor their health. The team released its report on Tuesday amid criticism over manual removal of toxic sludge from the seashore using buckets after the collision of two ships outside the harbour of the Kamarajar Port in Ennore on January 28.
The team comprising three physicians had conducted a field study at Bharathi Nagar, a hamlet in the vicinity of the oil spill on Ennore Expressway, on February 7. Those engaged in the clean-up operations without protective gear have higher chances of contracting cancer and health issues relating to the liver and kidney, said the report.
“Fire and rescue service personnel were not provided with safety gear on par with the Indian Coast Guard… Initially, local fishermen had suffered short-term effects such as irritation in eyes and respiratory problems on the first day of the spill,” said Amaran, a member of the team. Considering the health impact, the fishermen community, particularly children, must be assessed continuously during frequent intervals, besides the workers engaged in the clean-up, he added.Read More »
CHENNAI: The State government lacks a database of workers who were involved in cleaning up the spill, thus putting them at a greater long-term health risk as they have engaged themselves without any protective gear, warns a fact-finding report prepared by doctors.
The report, ‘Oil Spill in Chennai: fact-finding report on health impacts on clean-up workers, fisherfolk and residents in Ennore,’ charges the government with failing to come out with guidelines on how to clear the spill, which exposed many to carcinogenic chemicals like benzene, toluene and xylene.
The report, prepared by three doctors Dr S Sudarshini, Dr Shruthee SG and Dr M Amaran under the guidance of Dr Rakhal Gaitonde, senior scientist, Centre for Technology and Policy, IIT-Madras, highlighted how there has been little information on the nature of spill, petroleum oil and its derivatives that have toxic chemicals which cause damage to human health.Read More »
Fact-finding team says health of workers and fisherfolk must be assessed
CHENNAI: A team of doctors and members of the Healthy Energy Initiative, India, has called for a continual, long-term assessment of all those involved in the oil spill clean-up, including the crew, fisherfolk and residents.
At a press meet on Tuesday, members of a fact-finding team who visited Bharathiyar Nagar, Ennore, 10 days after the oil spill, released a report on the health impact of the spill. The team found a number of workers and residents complaining of skin, eye and throat irritation, tightness in the chest and cough, and some who had had headaches, nausea and vomiting. Members of the team said that while the health camp set up by the State government was managing ailments, it did not record baseline health information of the clean-up crew. In addition, the lack of information on the nature and quantum of the spill made it impossible for residents to take preventive and precautionary measures, they said.
“Crude oil contains volatile organic compounds including benzene, toluene and xylene, which are carcinogenic. Continuous exposure to these chemicals puts workers at a higher risk of developing diseases such as cancers and kidney and liver disease,” said S.G. Shruthee, a doctor on the team.
Speaking about the lack of adequate protective gear, M. Amaran, another doctor, said that they had found discarded, oil-covered gloves and shoes at the site and Corporation workers had to collect them without any protective gear. “There were varying levels of protective gear. The Coastguard had better gear than the fire and rescue personnel, while the fishermen had almost nothing. No one had respirator masks. Nowhere did we see best practices implemented. Even basic things such as cordoning off the site and evacuation of vulnerable populations was not carried out. No information was put out by the State,” said Shweta Narayan of the Initiative. The fire and rescue personnel were in t-shirts and shorts without full coveralls, said Dr. Amaran.
Arun Krishnamurthy of the Environmentalist Foundation of India said that volunteers who had been involved in the clean-up operation had come due to their goodwill to society and had worked in harsh conditions, and should have been sensitised more. “Not many people knew how to protect themselves. There were also a lot of curious onlookers who were unknowingly exposing themselves to hazards,” he said, adding that healthcare workers needed to be trained in responding to chemical disasters.
The team sought a baseline survey and long-term monitoring that would take into account any health changes in the workers, residents and children and said a team of doctors should be formed for this purpose. The report would be submitted to the Directorate of Public Health as well as the State government, they said.
The original article appeared in The Hindu on 22nd February 2017 – Read it here