The Gulf of Mexico oil spill is already the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, but what most people don’t know is that it is rapidly turning into a public health disaster of frightening proportions. Reports are scattered and mostly anecdotal at this point (as BP and the U.S. government try to keep a lid on information getting out), but it is becoming increasingly clear that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and/or the chemical dispersants being used are making a lot of people sick. So far most of the reports have been about breathing difficulties, vomiting and various flu-like symptoms. But it is the health effects that will take a long time to show up that are the most concerning. For example, this oil spill has released massive amounts of benzene into the Gulf. Benzene actually enters human cells and damages DNA material. In fact, the Department of Health and Human Services tells us that exposure to benzene has been proven to cause leukemia. So are we about to see a massive wave of cancer sweep the Gulf coast? At this point nobody knows. What is becoming clear is that a whole lot of people are becoming ill. Several days ago, the state of Louisiana announced that 71 cases of oil spill-related illnesses had been reported to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals up to that point. A significant number of those had not even been involved in any of the clean up efforts. But the cases of illness are most prominent among those involved in cleaning up the oil spill. CBS news has reported that more than 75 oil spill disaster workers have already been treated for mysterious symptoms. The most common symptoms being reported by oil spill disaster workers include vomiting, dizziness, headaches and shortness of breath. The wife of one fisherman who is involved in disaster relief efforts in the Gulf recently told CNN what her husband has been telling her about what is really going on out there…. “I received several calls from him saying, ‘This one’s hanging over the boat throwing up. This one says he’s dizzy, and he’s feeling faint. Everybody’s loading up their stuff, tying up their rigs and going back to the docks.’” Down in Texas, they are referring to these illnesses as “TILT” – Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance. The following is an excerpt from a local news report out of San Antonio…. For weeks now, local hospitals have tracked patients with suspicious symptoms coming in from the gulf coast. Doctors are having trouble distinguishing it from the flu. “What makes it challenging is that patients show up with non-specific symptoms. Headaches, fatigue, problems with memory and concentration, upset stomach,” lists Dr. Claudia Miller at UT Health Science Center. So what in the world is causing all this? Nobody knows for certain yet. But if the smell of the oil on some Gulf beaches is already so strong that it burns your nostrils, then what in the world is this oil going to do to our health? Needless to say, this is a story that the mainstream media needs to start following a lot more closely. One of our readers named Debra from Louisiana recently left a comment describing the breathing difficulties and headaches that she is now experiencing…. I live in Gretna, La just a little past the Huey P Long bridge. I have had headaches for several days now. I am also having trouble breathing like i am having a asthma episode. I don’t even have asthma. If it gets any worse i am going to the hospital. All i can say is someone needs to look into this seriously, The air smells like burning crayons (that is the best way to explain it). It has smelled like this for several days now. A reader named Stacy on our sister website recently posted a very alarming comment regarding what is happening in her area down in Florida…. We live in the navarre, florida area and in the past week almost every family we know has had vomiting and diarreha. This could just be anecdotal – maybe we just have a stomach bug circulating, but it is strange. We had a huge storm the week before it happened that blew in from the gulf so who knows. Also, the city of destin, florida has taken it upon themselves to close the destin pass with their own purchased boom and barges. This is an elite destination and they are not waiting around for bp and their hired prison workers to clean the beaches. Apparently, the coast guard was at the meeting and told the locals that they will face criminal prosecution, but they don’t care. They are protecting their million dollar properties. Another commenter from Louisiana named Joe says that everyone in his family is dealing with these kinds of health issues right now…. We live near Hammond, LA which is some 60 miles NORTH of New Orleans, LA. For the past two to three weeks we have been having mild flu like symptoms. I hardly never get sick but cannot get ride of a runny nose and a constant headache that only goes away when I leave this area (heading North). My entire family has the same problems as well as many of our friends in the area. The most frightening thing is that nobody knows exactly what we are dealing with here. Are there any other factors other than all the oil that is causing all of these health issues? Are these illnesses being caused by the extremely high levels of methane that scientists have detected in the Gulf of Mexico? Are the 1 million gallons of dispersal agents such as Corexit 9500 and Corexit 9527 that BP has poured into the Gulf to blame? Are people becoming sick due to all the hydrogen sulfide and benzene being released by the oil spill? Considering the fact that exposure to benzene has been proven to cause leukemia, it is imperative that we get some answers sooner rather than later. And unfortunately, the threat from this oil spill is only going to continue to grow. The truth is that this is not just an “oil leak”. This is an “oil volcano” that is pumping out oil at such high pressure that BP is totally at a loss for how to stop it. In fact, BP’s Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles recently told CNN that BP’s data indicates that BP can’t cap the leaking oil, or it might cause the well casing to blow out. So when will this oil volcano be stopped? Nobody knows. Meanwhile, at least one industry expert is estimating that the oil beneath the surface of the water already covers 40% of the Gulf of Mexico. 40% of the Gulf of Mexico? And it is still getting worse? It is hard to even find the words to describe how horrific this nightmare is becoming. If you live along the Gulf coast and you know of some health issues where you live, please leave a comment below. Hopefully if we all work together we can start to piece the facts together about this very dangerous health crisis….