Inter Press Service: Sick for the holidays: Gulf’s toxic effects continue.

In response to the massive spill last summer that released at least 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, BP admitted to using at least 1.9 million gallons of Corexit dispersants – which have been banned in 19 countries – to sink the oil. The dispersants contain chemicals that many scientists and toxicologists have warned are dangerous to humans, marine life and wildlife. A March 1987 report titled “Organic Solvent Neurotoxicity”, by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), states: “The acute neurotoxic effects of organic solvent exposure in workers and laboratory animals are narcosis, anesthesia, central nervous system (CNS) depression, respiratory arrest, unconsciousness, and death.”  Several chemicals and chemical compounds listed in the NIOSH report, such as styrene, toluene and xylene, are now present in the Gulf of Mexico as the result of BP’s dispersants mixing with BP’s crude oil. More . . .

International Business TimesMercury plagues Indiana.

Indiana has over 30 coal-burning power plants. The smoke rises and disperses in the air, but its chemical contents do not vanish. They linger in the atmosphere and they return to the earth, and to the waterways of Indiana, with the rain. And that poses a danger to Indianans, and Indiana wildlife, and other Americans, too.  The U.S. Geological Survey, in partnership with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, recently published the results of a decade-long study of Indiana waterways. The title says a lot: Mercury in Indiana Watersheds. “Mercury contamination in water and fish throughout Indiana has routinely exceeded levels recommended to protect people and wildlife,” said the USGS release accompanying the report. “About 1 in 8 fish samples tested statewide had mercury that exceeded the recommended safety limit for human consumption. The causes include mercury in the rain and mercury going down the drain.” More . . .

Today Show: Could your seafood contain toxic chemicals?

When you think of tainted seafood, you may think of the Gulf oil spill. But 80 percent of the fish and shrimp Americans eat actually comes from overseas — and a TODAY investigation that aired Tuesday found that some of that seafood may contain toxic chemicals that can cause serious health problems. Footage taken by a U.S. advocacy group of seafood being raised in Vietnam, for example, showed fish in dirty sewage water, pumped with toxic antibiotics and banned drugs just to keep them alive, boosting production and driving down costs. ‘Disturbing number’ Ron Sparks is commissioner of the state Department of Agriculture in Alabama — one of the few states that tests imported seafood for drugs like chloramphenicol, nitrofurans and malachite green, chemicals so toxic to humans that they’re banned in all food. “In some cases, between 40 and 50 percent of our tests will come out positive,” Sparks said. “That’s a disturbing number.” More . . .