"Today I'm talking to you about my life," Cherri Foytlin told the two commissioners present at the Jan. 12 meeting. "My ethylbenzene levels are 2.5 times the 95th percentile, and there's a very good chance now that I won't get to see my grandbabies…What I'm asking you to do now, if possible, is to amend [your report]. Because we have got to get some health care."
Ethylbenzene is a form of benzene present in the body when it begins to break down. It is also present in BP's crude oil.
"I have seen small children with lesions all over their bodies," Foytlin, co-founder of Gulf Change, a community organisation based in Grand Isle, Louisiana, continued.
"We are very, very ill. And dead is dead. So it really doesn't matter if the media comes back… or the president hears us, or… if the oil workers and the fishermen and the crabbers get to feed their babies and maybe have a good Christmas next year… Dead is dead…I know your job is probably already done, but I'd like to hire you if you don't mind. And God knows I can't pay you. But I need your heart. And I need your voice."
Many of the chemicals present in the oil and dispersants are known to cause the following health problems:
Headaches, nausea, vomiting, kidney damage, altered renal functions, irritation of the digestive tract, lung damage, burning pain in the nose and throat, coughing, pulmonary edema, cancer, lack of muscle coordination, dizziness, confusion, irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat, difficulty breathing, delayed reaction time, memory difficulties, stomach discomfort, liver and kidney damage, unconsciousness, tiredness/lethargy, irritation of the upper respiratory tract, and hematological disorders.
Commissioner Frances Beinecke, president of the National Resources Defence Council, vowed to convey her concerns to the White House.