Oil washing ashore and the chemicals used in the clean up of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico may pose a health risk for those who have respiratory diseases, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).

While most people will not be affected by the spill and clean up, those with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) could be at risk, particularly from the oil-dispersing chemicals.

“Since the spill is now coming ashore, adults and children with respiratory diseases need to keep a close eye on their breathing, stay inside, and call their allergist if they feel ill,” says Jonathan Bernstein, MD, allergist and spokesperson for the ACAAI. “The oil-dispersing chemicals could also be harmful since we don’t know what they are or if they have a strong odor that may trigger symptoms.”

Source: Newswise