Study shows danger of exposure to particular oil cleanup chemical

by Andrew Bainbridge | Apr 07, 2015 | Workers' Compensation

A study published this month may start raising concerns about the use of a particular dispersant known as Corexit EC9500A, which was widely used in the cleanup efforts following the Deepwater Horizon explosion. According to the study, which was conducted by the University of Alabamat Birmingham and highlighted in a recent Washington Post article, exposure to the chemical causes damage to epithelial cells that are found in both human lungs and the gills of aquatic animals.

Researchers documented that the chemical “causes structural and functional abnormalities in airway tissue” which can lead to serious respiratory problems. It’s believed that thousands of people, including workers and those who helped with the cleanup efforts after the BP oil spill, may have inhaled the chemical, which may have caused damage to their lungs. Although the study did not conclude that this was the case, it does suggest that it could be a very real outcome for some.

A worker’s right to compensation

As our more recurring readers know, companies are required by law to provide a safe working environment for their employees. This is especially true in industries where there is a higher risk of exposure to dangerous situations and hazardous chemicals, such as in the case of oil and gas drilling operations.

Even if a company isn’t aware of an exposure danger they may still be liable for any injuries this causes their workers. This may need to be paid out in the form of workers’ compensation or other restitution methods.

In the case of exposure to Corexit, a person may suffer significant damage to the tissue in their lungs. This could leave them temporarily or even permanently disabled, giving further reason to seek workers’ compensation or disability benefits. That’s because the respiratory damage could so great that they are forced to leave the workforce, which could negatively impact any person’s financial security and road to recovery.

Tags: chemical exposure safety hazard Workers' Compensation Workplace Safety