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Labor agency monitors health of workers exposed to oil spill

October 8, 2006

By Jerome Aning
Inquirer, Oct. 7, 2006

THE labor department’s Occupation Safety and Health Center on Saturday said it was monitoring the long-term effects of exposure to chemicals by workers involved in cleaning up the Guimaras oil spill since August.

OSHC Executive Director Dr. Dulce Estrella-Gust listed 11 hazardous chemicals that some 1,500 cleanup workers may be exposed to through inhalation, skin and eye contact, or ingestion.

The spilled bunker fuel has become even more toxic because of the oil’s deterioration and its reaction to seawater and air, she said.

These chemicals include benzene, benzoapyrene, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, ethyl benzene, hydrogen sulfide, methyl tert-butyl ether, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, sulfuric acid, toluene, and xylenes.

The chemicals have varying effects ranging from skin irritation and dizziness to organ malfunction and cancer.

Gust recalled that the cleanup workers initially did not have personal protective equipment and were thus exposed to the harmful chemicals. The cleanup was briefly suspended because of this problem.

(For the full story, click Health of workers.)

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