Deepwater Horizon oil pollution

There had been collected 6,814 dead animals, including 6,104 birds, 609 sea turtles, 100 dolphins and other mammals, and 1 other reptile thus far. In April 2011, one year from the onset of the spill, scientists confirmed that they had discovered oil on dead dolphins found along the Gulf Coast. Almost 200 dead dolphins in the Gulf were counted in 2011, with another 90 in 2010.

Oregon State University researchers announced the oil spill waters contain carcinogens. The scientific team had found sharply heightened levels of chemicals in the waters off the coast of Louisiana in August, the last sampling date, even after British Petroleum successfully capped its well in July.

Near Grand Isle, Louisiana, the team discovered that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are often linked to oil spills and include carcinogens and chemicals that pose various risks to human health. They remain at levels 40 times higher than before the oil spill.

Researchers said the compounds may enter the food chain through organisms like plankton or fish. The overall effect on the environment of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill can only be estimated fully with a passage of time and close monitoring.

Oil spill health effects
All marine mammal species in the Gulf have been affected by the Deepwater Horizon spill. The effects initially manifest themselves at the individual level as the loweringprobability of survival or reproduction. Direct effects from the spill include contact with oil or dispersants and interaction with response teams. Indirect effects are visible through degradation of habitat and reduced availability of prey.

Chemicals contained in the oil from the Deepwater Horizon rig and the dispersants used to clean the up spill posed a certain threat for human health, especially if they were inhaled or contact the skin. In addition, harmful chemicals could accumulate in Gulf of Mexico fish and shellfish, which is a vital source of food for the communities in Gulf area. Most of the symptoms seen thus far are headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, cough, respiratory stress and chest pain. These symptoms are often in people exposed to hydrogen sulfide gas or hydrocarbons for an extended time period.

Next: Deepwater Horizon aftermath