“The properties that facilitate the movement of dispersants through oil also make it easier for them to move through cell walls, skin barriers, and membranes that protect vital organs, underlying layers of skin, the surfaces of eyes, mouths, and other structures… Corexit dispersants, in combination with crude oil, pose grave health risks to marine life and human health and threaten to deplete critical niches in the Gulf food web that may never recover.” ~ 2010 Consensus Statement drafted by Dr. Susan D. Shaw, Marine Environmental Research Institute

The oil industry mixes large volumes of oil-based solvents and other chemicals with oil, as dispersants to break up oil slicks, as diluents to thin tar sands for transportation, and as fracking fluids to extract oil from oil-bearing shale. These solvents share similar chemicals, and the properties that facilitate their movement through oil also facilitate their movement into the bodies of humans and organisms. Particles become more soluble as well as airborne making exposed body barriers, like the skin and lungs, easily penetrable and allowing a direct pathway into vital areas of the body. Not surprisingly, people impacted by oil and gas activities such as the BP DWH disaster along the Gulf coast (solvent-crude oil combined), dilbit spills in Michigan and Arkansas (solvent-tar sands oil combined), and fracking activities and spills (solvent-shale oil combined), are reporting symptoms characteristic of exposure to crude oil and/or oil-based solvents.

Learn more

… about health impacts from the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster

D’Andrea, Mark and Kesava Reddy, 2013. “Health consequences among subjects involved in Gulf oil spill clean-up activities,” The American Journal of Medicine, Vol. 126(11):966-974.

Devine, Shanna and Tom Devine, Government Accountability Project, 2013. Deadly Dispersants in the Gulf: Are Public Health and Environmental Tragedies the New Norm for Oil Spill Cleanups?

Jamail, Dahr, “BP’s ‘widespread human health crisis’, Aljazeera English, Oct. 27, 2013.

VICE on HBO, 2014, VICE Debrief with VICE co-founder Shane Smith, Season 2, Episode 9, May 16, 2014.

VICE on HBO, Shane Smith, 2014, Crude Awakening, Season 2, Episode 9, May 16, 2014.


… about health impacts from tar sands oil and frack oil

Center for Environmental Health, 6-part webinar series on fracking impacts on maternal health:

Earthworks, 2013, Reckless Endangerment in the Eagle Ford Shale: Government fails, public health suffers and industry profits from the shale oil boom.

Federman, Adam, 2014, Hazardous Cargo: Shipping Highly Flammable Bakken Crude Oil by Rail, Earth Island Journal, summer 2014.

Physicians Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy, 10-part Continuing Medical Education courses on potential acute and chronic medical effects, injuries, and disabilities associated with high-volume hydraulic fracturing of shale:

Tenenbaum, David, 2009, Oil Sands Development: A Health Risk Worth Taking? Environ Health Perspect. Apr 2009; 117(4): A150–A156.

The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, Health effects of chemicals in natural gas operations


… about resources for your health care provider

Bijlsma N and Cohen MM. Environmental chemical assessment in clinical practice: Unveiling the elephant in the room. Int J Environ Research and Public Health, 2016, 13:181–208; doi:10.3390/ijerph13020181
Carnahan J, MD. “MTHFR gene mutation… What’s the big deal about Methylation?” Functional Wisdom, Healthy Updates from Dr. Jill! May 12, 2013;
Carnahan, J, MD. “10 health tips for anyone with a MTHFR gene mutation,” Flatiron Functional Medicine, February 23, 2014.

MTHFR Gene Mutation: How to Know If You Have It and What to Do

Devine S, Devine T. Deadly Dispersants in the Gulf: Are Public Health and Environmental Tragedies the New Norm for Oil Spill Cleanups? Published by the Government Accountability Project, Washington, DC, 2013;
Devine S, Devine T. Addendum Report to “Deadly Dispersants in the Gulf: Are Public Health and Environmental Tragedies the New Norm for Oil Spill Cleanups?” Published by the Government Accountability Project, Washington, DC, 2015;

Corexit: Deadly Dispersant in Oil Spill Cleanup

Environmental Defense. Pre-Polluted: A Report on Toxic Substances in the Umbilical Cord of Canadian Newborns. Environmental Defense Canada: Toronto, ON, Canada, 2013;
Environmental Working Group. Body Burden: The Pollution in Newborns. A Benchmark Investigation of Industrial Chemicals, Pollutants, and Pesticides in Umbilical Cord Blood. Washington, DC, July 14, 2005;
Genuis SJ. Evolution in pediatric health care. Pediatr Int, 2010, 52:640–643;
Laffon B, Pasaro E, Valdiglesias V. Effects of exposure to oil spills on human health: Updated review. J Toxicol Environ Health, 2016, Part B 19(3–4):105–128;
Miller, C. TILT: A New Class of Diseases. How Exposures to Chemicals are Undermining Our Mental & Physical Health. Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance. Claudia Miller, MSS, MD. San Antonio: University of Texas Health Science Center, 2013. Accessed September 5, 2016.
Piacentini S, Polimanti R, Porreca F, Martínez-Labarga C, de Stefano GF, Fuciarelli M. GSTT1 and GSTM1 gene polymorphisms in European and African populations. Mol Biol Rep, 2011, 38:1225–1230.
Trasande L, Zoeller RT, Hass U, Kortenkamp A, Grandjean P, Myers JP, DiGangi J, Bellanger M, Hauser R, Legler J, Skakkebaek NE, Heindel JJ. Estimating burden and disease costs of exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the European union. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 2015, 100:1245–1255;
WHO. Preventing Disease through Healthy Environments. Towards an Estimate of the Environmental Burden of Disease. WHO: Geneva, Switzerland, 2006.