With Continued Use of Chemicals, Chairman Asks for Details on Monitoring Regime, Human Health Impacts

WASHINGTON (May 25, 2010) – In light of continued use of chemical oil dispersants by BP, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today asked the Food and Drug Administration for information on how Gulf seafood that could be purchased and eaten by humans will be monitored for potential long-term exposure to chemicals.
I am concerned that because these toxic chemicals were not intended to be used for such long durations, and were not intended to be used at such depths, there could be serious and unknown long-term consequences for the marine ecosystem, the food chain and human health,” Rep. Markey writes in a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.  

The FDA has an important role to play in monitoring the impact of the spill and the dispersants being used on our food supply, as the Gulf Coast fisheries will not recover from this disaster unless the public has confidence in the safety of seafood from the Gulf,” Rep. Markey explained.

The letter can be viewed by clicking HERE.

At a briefing last week before the Energy and Environment Subcommittee in the Energy and Commerce Committee, which Rep. Markey chairs, ocean scientists, including experts in toxicology, expressed concern regarding the long-term effects of these chemicals on fish and other marine life in the Gulf of Mexico. They also explained that there were unknown consequences for human health as these animals consumed each other up the food chain, leading to human consumption of fish or other seafood from the Gulf.

In the letter today, Rep. Markey asks for additional information from the FDA on the monitoring and testing of seafood and other marine life for the presence of these chemicals, and the federal standards that exist to protect the public from consuming contaminated seafood.

Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency directed BP to reduce its use of dispersants, including the known-toxic chemical formulation called Corexit. However, BP will continue to use the dispersant at the sea floor to disperse the oil. To date, more than 800,000 gallons of dispersant have been applied either on the surface of the Gulf or at the spill source.

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