Oil spill cleanup workers sick from hydrocarbons. The oil company hired fishermen to work on the cleanup efforts of the spill. BP forced the men to sign contracts that prohibit them from talking to the press about their health.
Last week, wives of some of the fishermen spoke out publicly about the symptoms their husbands were experiencing, and now some fishermen are starting to come forward. The workers are stating that they are feeling drugged, disoriented, tingling, sick, fatigued, and having shortness of breath and cough. These are symptoms that are consistent with what one might expect from exposure to hydrocarbons in the slick.
Disturbing photos are starting to be posted on the internet of workers on beaches in regular street clothes. These workers are in direct contact with weathered oil. It is considered less dangerous than fresh crude and skin contact with it is hazardous. Experts say they should be required to wear gloves and other protected gear.
Additionally, the crude can contaminate shoes and clothing, and then be worn home where it could pose a risk to young children. While the cleanup is important, it needs to be done with proper training and safety regulations. The illnesses have included severe headaches, vomiting, nausea, and chronic breathing problems.