Thousands of People Along the Gulf Coast Suffer ‘BP Crud’

Thursday, September 9, 2010
By Paul Martin

The Untold Story of Human Health Effects From BP’s Oil Disaster

Editor’s Note: The Washington Post was given an opportunity for first, exclusive rights to publish this story today, but took a pass “because of the complicated nature of this story and our concerns that it’s too early to judge the real health effects.” Due to the time sensitive nature of this story, and because of tonight’s community health meeting in Orange Beach, we cannot hold it any longer for traditional news outlets. A special thanks to for partial funding to cover travel expenses for reporting on this story.

by Glynn Wilson

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. — Wherever disaster strikes, there’s always an associated crud.

There was the Exxon Valdez Crud. The Nine Eleven Crud. The Katrina Cough, and then the TVA coal ash cough.

Now, along the entire coast of the Gulf of Mexico, there is the BP Crud, afflicting workers and the general population from Louisiana to Florida.

When the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blew up in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, Robin Young, a 47-year-old director of guest services for a property management company in Orange Beach, Alabama, was gearing up for what promised to be the best tourist season on the coast in years. From the city of New Orleans to the Florida panhandle, communities were finally starting to feel like they were recovering from the devastation left in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Ivan.

Since suffering a debilitating bout of what locals are calling the “BP Crud,” however, like thousands of other people along the coast due to their exposure to the oil and chemical dispersants, she is now part of a growing community of activists along the coast who are worried about their health.

Just a few days after BP’s oil made landfall along the Alabama Gulf Coast in June, Ms. Young’s symptoms started with “a fiery, burning sore throat,” she said. Then came the horrible, constant cough, followed by an achy feeling much like a severe flu virus — and a lethargy that kept her in bed for two weeks solid. Her memory started playing tricks on her, and her motor skills and even hand-to-eye coordination went south.

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