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TILT: The illness afflicting workers exposed to BP’s oil disaster?

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Southernstudies.org
June 24, 2010

Workers cleaning up the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico have reported suffering from flu-like symptoms that may be the consequence of exposure to chemicals in the oil as well as the petroleum-derived solvent being used to disperse the spill.

The illness — marked by headaches, fatigue, upset stomach, and problems with memory and concentration — has been dubbed toxicant-induced loss of tolerance, or TILT. People suffering from TILT lose the ability to tolerate exposures to household chemical products, medication or even food, Dr. Claudia Miller of the University of Texas Health Science Center told WOAI TV:

“Things like diesel fuel, exposure to fragrances, cleaning agents that never bothered them before suddenly bother them,” adds Dr. Miller.

Miller first described TILT in 1996, but it remains a controversial diagnosis among the medical community. The syndrome is also known as multiple chemical sensitivity and idiopathic environmental intolerance. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a division of the National Institutes of Health, has defined the illness as a “chronic, recurring disease caused by a person’s inability to tolerate an environmental chemical or class of foreign chemicals.”

Regardless of whether the illness being reported in Gulf cleanup workers and residents ends up being confirmed as TILT, the fact remains that the chemicals people are being exposed to in the oil and dispersants are known to have health impacts including eye, skin and respiratory irritation, as well as headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea and confusion. An analysis of EPA air testing data has found levels of these chemicals in coastal communities exceeding safety standards.

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This article was posted: Thursday, June 24, 2010 at 4:09 am





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