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Monday, July 15, 2013

Exxon Oil Spill Impacts Still Being Determined as Testing Continues for Heavy Metals

From InsideClimate News:
Joseph Graziano, a professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University, said that in addition to determining the concentrations of heavy metals, scientists also must study if and how residents come into contact with the contaminants. "Sure, heavy metals have serious health effects," he said. "But only if exposure takes place. 
Graziano and other experts say it's important to know, for example, if the metals are seeping into groundwater and reaching basements or backyard gardens, and if they're becoming more concentrated—and therefore more toxic—as they make their way up the food chain in Lake Conway. 
These questions are particularly important in Mayflower because the type of oil that spilled—diluted bitumen from Alberta's oil sands region—has far higher concentrations of heavy metals than conventional crude oil. Diluted bitumen, or dilbit, is the same type of oil that contaminated Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in 2010, creating the most expensive oil pipeline spill in U.S. history. It's also the type of oil that will be carried from Alberta to Nebraska on the Keystone XL pipeline if the Obama administration approves the project. 
A 2009 report prepared for the oil industry by the Alberta Research Council found that samples of bitumen had 10 times as much chromium as Alberta conventional crude and more than 38 times as much manganese. Chromium is a carcinogen that weakens the immune system, and manganese is associated with tremors and cognitive problems.
Read the whole article here. 


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