Out of Sight: Dispersed Oil’s High Price
Spring cleaning comes and I have to leave the room. Many of the grocery store cleaning agents one might expect to see used for such a project give me the weird-head.
I have a low threshold for such solvents, first noticing the effect from dry-eraser-board cleaner at a clinic where I worked. Simple Green at home has the same effect: within minutes, I start to feel like my eyes are being pumped full of helium and becoming too large for their bony orbits. I head for the fresh air and can’t come back in for some while.
Turns out, the offending ingredient is probably 2BE ( 2-butoxyethanol)–a substance found (though manufacturers are not required to tell you) in Windex and Simple Green and many other products, about which the precautions warnings include (but by no means are limited to) the following:
People exposed to high levels of 2-butoxyethanol for several hours have reported nose and eye irritation, headaches, vomiting and a metallic taste in their mouths. In addition to inhaling 2-butoxyethanol vapor, research has shown that skin can also absorb 2-butoxyethanol vapor from the air, making skin a major pathway of exposure to this chemical. It has been linked to some autoimmune diseases such as chronic fatigue syndrome and autism and some forms of anemia. Also, 2BE has been documented to cause the breakdown of red blood cells, leading to blood inÂ urine and feces, and can damage the kidneys, liver, spleen and bone marrow of humans — effects not included on the information sheet for workers.
2BE’s Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet recommends that, if spilled, DO NOT wash into sewer.
That’s funny, because, in the event of an undersea oil spill, we’re willing to pump tens of thousands of gallons of this dispersant into the oceans adjacent to where people live and the front bedrooms of countless billions of invertebrates including baby fish, zooplankton, oysters and other filter-feeders who will feel their eyeballs begin to swell and have no outdoors to run to.
But not to worry: there are other dispersant chemicals, like Corexit 9500. Yummy. Exact ingredients are a trade secret, but 2BE is among them.
Corexit isÂ being used in large volumes by BP in this disaster. BP has purchased a goodly percentage of the world supply and could use it all before this disaster is “over”. Corexit is a petroleum based dispersant, about which according to ProtectTheOcean.com states…
“Oil is toxic at 11 ppm while Corexit 9500 is toxic at only 2.61 ppm; Corexit 9500 is four times as toxic as the oil itself.”
It is being used a mile below the surface to emulsify the oil into microscopic globules, invisible to camera crews and condo share-holders. But tell that to the food chain creatures, birds, turtles and fish already dying without any visible signs of oil on them.
There are more effective and less harmful dispersants available. Why are they not being used? FOLLOW THE MONEY. Corexit company stock up 18%. Makes my eyeballs bulge.
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