There are simply no safe levels of exposure to toxins. Part 1 Introduction


Part 1 of 6- How we are beginning to figure out how obviously hazardous materials have been poisoning us while our government’s agencies have been telling us all along these are safe materials or safe levels. By the end of this series – you can be the judge or at least the jury! Read on and join in- the time is now for all of us to join this effort. Please help- this is all out war for our lives and our children’s and grandchildren’s futures. While we worry about war overseas, nuclear war and were warned about Saddam’s mobile labs containing biological warfare we have failed to look at what’s going on right under our own noses – right here in our own country! And we have the nerve to talk about what less humane countries do to their citizens?


I am a former airline employee. In the late 70’s it was customary to start the engines at the gate. It was not unusual to have the jet way and sometimes the gate area filled with jet fumes. More than once while I was on the jet way I experienced a huge jet fume intake.


I seemingly out of the blue started to experience some “bizarre” symptoms; dizziness, rapid heart rate, nausea, headaches, insomnia, confusion, fatigue and seizures. At its worst I was unable to get out of bed with flu like symptoms. At that time I was in my 20’s. Since this is not about me I won’t bore you with the details just to say after years of tests the diagnosis was Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome, CFIDS. Basically my immune system like all auto-immune diseases attacks itself.


I needed answers to how this happened. I did a lot of research but there was not much available as there is today. When other employees started displaying the same symptoms, especially when 5 of 8 of us miscarried at the same time we started looking at our environment. I will fast forward the amount of years we tried to pin point what was making us sick. At one point we did suspect it was the fumes of jet fuel. But at this time the airlines were no longer starting engines at the gate to conserve fuel. Aircraft were manually pushed back with a tow.


We were told our suspicions were unwarranted. Fuel was safe and to stop with the craziness. We all moved on. I have always wondered and I continue to battle an immune system in chaos.


After 911 I started reading about the first symptoms of the 911 rescue workers. They were dizziness, nausea, vomiting etc. and I could not help but relate them to my first bizarre symptoms. The workers were all told the air was safe and almost 10 years later we know that was not true. Hundreds of workers have died and many are sick with Lung and blood problems and rare cancers such as kidney. They are still studying the cause and what was in the thick black smoke that filled the street of NYC.


I started to notice that those working in the gulf coast clean up all started to experience the same “bizarre” symptoms as did the EXXON VALDEZ oil spill workers many of whom have died or also have a host of bizarre symptoms and serious illnesses. What do the airline employees, 911 rescue workers and local NYC residents as well as their pets, EXXON Valdez, and the Gulf workers have in common?


All display the same symptoms. But 911 did not use dispersant in its clean up, nor has it been used in airports. BUT… They all have had long term exposure to crude oil, petroleum, in common.


Crude oil is a naturally occurring liquid composed mostly of hydrogen and carbon. It is usually found underground but can also be found above ground in oil seeps or tar pits. Crude oil is used to produce fuel for cars, trucks, airplanes, boats and trains. It is also used for a wide variety of other products including asphalt for roads, lubricants for all kinds of machines, plastics for toys, bottles, food wrap and computers. Crude oil contains highly toxic chemicals that can evaporate and blow in from the ocean, across neighborhoods and towns. You may smell the odor of these chemicals. Children and the Elderly are Especially Vulnerable


Exposure to crude oil in the air can cause difficulty breathing, headaches, dizziness, nausea, and confusion. Even brief exposure can cause health problems for people especially with asthma, COPD, and other respiratory problems.


Direct contact with contaminated water can cause skin damage. Delayed effects of crude oil exposure can include liver, kidney, respiratory, reproductive, blood, immune system and nervous system damage, cancer and birth defects. The occurrence and nature of harm will depend on exposure and individual factors, but some people are more susceptible:


  • Children are at higher risk for many reasons.
  • Pregnant women are also at higher risk, and so are their babies.
  • Elderly & those with health problems may be at higher risk.


Preventing exposure is the best way to prevent health problems. Be aware of odors and pollution alerts that warn of air pollution. Avoid contact with oily sand, soil, animals, plants or other materials. Vulnerable people in high pollution areas can consult their health care providers about ways to reduce their exposure and remain healthy.


For additional information and resources see:


EXXON Valdez

Volume of Crude Oil

750,000 barrels (32,000,000 US gal)



Jet Fuel World Trade Center

Flight 11 “likely contained about 10,000 gallons of Jet A4fuel (66,700 pounds)”.

(North Tower, impacted at 8:46 am.)


Flight 175 contained about 9,100 gal (62,000 lbs)

South Tower, impacted at 9:02 am.)

19,100 gallons of jet fuel onto ground zero.


Gulf Coast Crude Oil

Estimated 180 million gallons.


I have done much research to try and link these groups but I am not a chemist and I do not play one on this blog. So I would appreciate any and all help with additional research. Please post in comments.


Millions of gallons of crude oil are flowing and a million gallons of dispersant, as used in the cleanup of Exxon Valdez are being dumped on the gulf. We are being told it is safe. We have heard the EPA say Exxon Valdez was safe and we know it was not. We have heard the EPA say Ground Zero was safe and we know it was not. Why now do we believe the Gulf is save?


I have research this very carefully and I know what the future brings for the Gulf is Toxic. Same as Exxon Valdez and Ground Zero. My research because of its length will be done in parts. I welcome any and all research please post in comments.


To keep you interested I will tell you ONE of the many compounds found in crude oil is Benzene. Benzene is a natural part of crude oil, gasoline. (180 million gallons of crude oil has spilled into the gulf) Benzene is a chemical that is a colorless or light yellow liquid at room temperature. It has a sweet odor and is highly flammable.


Benzene evaporates into the air very quickly. Its vapor is heavier than air and may sink into low-lying areas. Benzene dissolves only slightly in water and will float on top of water. Benzene is widely used in the United States . It ranks in the top 20 chemicals for production volume.


Some industries use benzene to make other chemicals that are used to make plastics, resins, and nylon and synthetic fibers. Benzene is also used to make some types of lubricants, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides. (Benzene besides being found in crude oil as it results to this research is ONE of the many ingredients in Corexit that are toxic but is listed as detergent. More later)


Indoor air generally contains levels of benzene higher than those in outdoor air. The benzene in indoor air comes from products that contain benzene such as glues, paints, furniture wax, and detergents. The air around hazardous waste sites or gas stations can contain higher levels of benzene than in other areas. Benzene leaks from underground storage tanks or from hazardous waste sites containing benzene can contaminate well water.


People working in industries that make or use benzene may be exposed to the highest levels of it. The seriousness of poisoning caused by benzene depends on the amount, route, and length of time of exposure, as well as the age and preexisting medical condition of the exposed person.


The short term breathing of high levels of benzene can result in death, while low levels can cause drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heart rate, headaches, tremors, confusion, and unconsciousness. Eating or drinking foods containing high levels of benzene can cause vomiting, irritation of the stomach, dizziness, sleepiness, convulsions, and death.


If a person vomits because of swallowing foods or beverages containing benzene, the vomit could be sucked into the lungs and cause breathing problems and coughing. (Important as it relates to Ground Zero) Direct exposure of the eyes, skin, or lungs to benzene can cause tissue injury and irritation.


The major effects of benzene are manifested via chronic (long-term) exposure through the blood. Benzene damages the bone marrow and can cause a decrease in red blood cells, leading to anemia. It can also cause excessive bleeding and depress the immune system, increasing the chance of infection. Benzene causes leukemia and is associated with other blood cancers and pre-cancers of the blood. (Ground Zero and Exxon Valdez)


Human exposure to benzene is a global health problem. Benzene targets liver, kidney, lung, heart and the brain and can cause DNA strand breaks, chromosomal damage etc. Benzene causes cancer in both animals and humans. Benzene was first reported to induce cancer in humans in the 1920s. The chemical industry claims it wasn’t until 1979 that the cancer-inducing properties were determined “conclusively” in humans, despite many references to this fact in the medical literature. Industry exploited this “discrepancy” and tried to discredit animal studies which showed benzene caused cancer, saying that they weren’t relevant to humans. Benzene has been shown to cause cancer in both sexes of multiple species of laboratory animals exposed via various routes.


Some women who breathed high levels of benzene for many months had irregular menstrual periods and a decrease in the size of their ovaries. It is not known whether benzene exposure affects the developing fetus in pregnant women or fertility in men. Animal studies have shown low birth weights, delayed bone formation, and bone marrow damage when pregnant animals breathed benzene.


Benzene has been connected to a rare form of kidney cancer in two separate studies, one involving tank truck drivers, and the other involving seamen on tanker vessels, both carrying benzene-laden chemicals.


The “US Department of Health and Human Services” (DHHS) classifies benzene as a human carcinogen. Long-term exposure to excessive levels of benzene in the air causes leukemia, a potentially fatal cancer of the blood-forming organs, in susceptible individuals. In particular, Acute myeloid leukemia or acute non-lymphocytic leukemia (AML & ANLL) is not disputed to be caused by benzene.


The United States Environmental Protection Agency has set the maximum permissible level of benzene in drinking water at 0.005 milligrams per liter (0.005 mg/L). The EPA requires that spills or accidental releases into the environment of 10 pounds (4.5 kg) or more of benzene be reported to the EPA.


The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set a permissible exposure limit of 1 part of benzene per million parts of air (1 ppm) in the workplace during an 8-hour workday, 40-hour workweek. The short term exposure limit for airborne benzene is 5 ppm for 15 minutes. (Which explains the gulf worker being told to work 45 min with 15 min breaks)


Workers in various industries that make or use benzene may be at risk for being exposed to high levels of this carcinogenic chemical. Industries that involve the use of benzene include the rubber industry, oil refineries, chemical plants, shoe manufacturers, and gasoline-related industries, oil rigs, tankers.

In 1987, OSHA estimated that about 237,000 workers in the United States were potentially exposed to benzene, but it is not known if this number has substantially changed since then.


Water and soil contamination are important pathways of concern for transmission of benzene contact. In the U.S. alone there are approximately 100,000 different sites which have benzene soil or ground water contamination. In 2005, the water supply to the city of Harbin in China with a population of almost nine million people, was cut off because of a major benzene exposure. Benzene leaked into the Songhua River, which supplies drinking water to the city, after an explosion at a China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) factory in the city of Jilin on 13 November.


In March 2006, the official Food Standards Agency in Britain conducted a survey of 150 brands of soft drinks. It found that four contained benzene levels above World Health Organization limits. The affected batches were removed from sale.


The CDC and the EPA have issued warnings on Benzene.( As well as other toxins that will be discussed)


So why have all these been called safe?


Part 2- Tomorrow – is Jet fuel and the effects of exposure.


6 Responses

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Peni Basse. Peni Basse said: There are simply no safe levels of exposure to toxins. Part 1 Introduction Free Us Now Weblog: #gulf oil disaster #tcot […]

  2. Thank you for emailing me. I understand your health situation. Please read this email from Dr. Claudia Miller. I did speak for 90 min with her about my health issues, and took her test on her web site. I suggest that you visit her site and take the QUEESI test on TILT.

    > Dear Merle,
    > I’d appreciate an opportunity to talk with you.
    > The videos are impressive. Like you, I want to warn against the
    > dangers of protracted and repeated exposures to petrochemicals–
    > this is what my research has focused on for the past 20+ years. Over
    > that time, I have worked closely with the Gulf War vets and EPA
    > workers in their own sick building, as well as persons exposed to
    > pesticides or remodeling chemicals.

    > Please look at my website, papers on TILT and the questionnaire we
    > developed for assessing chemical intolerance and susceptibility. The
    > questionnaire–the QEESI (Quick Environmental Exposure and
    > Sensitivity Inventory) is validated and published in the scientific
    > literature and being used in many countries. The QEESI and our book
    > “Chemical Exposures: Low Levels and High Stakes” are both available
    > from the website at no cost. All are downloadable. The QEESI enables
    > exposed individuals to record their baseline symptoms and how these
    > change over time with exposure. Those working in the Gulf will want
    > this sort of evidence since many of the symptoms are “subjective’
    > according to doctors, even though we both know well that the ensuing
    > illnesses are often disabling.
    > The website is I would be interested in
    > your thoughts, especially concerning the QEESI.
    > I look forward to talking with you.
    > Warm regards,
    > Claudia S. Miller, M.D., M.S.
    > Professor, Occupational and Environmental Medicine
    > Assistant Dean, MD/MPH Program
    > Vice Chair, Community Medicine, Department of Family and Community
    > Medicine
    > Director, South Texas Environmental Education and Research (STEER)
    > Program in Laredo and Harlingen
    > University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
    > 7703 Floyd Curl Drive (222 MCS)
    > San Antonio, TX 78229-3900
    > Phone: (210) 567-7407
    > Fax: (210) 567-7457

  3. Merle,
    Thank you so much for your reply and information
    You provided.
    In part 4 I discuss the Exxon Valdez oil spill
    And I feature your incredible story.

    To our readers Merle Savage is the author of
    The book..Silence in the Sound.
    It is her story of Exxon Valdez.

    Her story is on her web site

    I wish you Blessings Merle and thanks for taking
    The time to join us here.

  4. Please visit the site of Marine biologist Riki Ott
    she has a petition to stop using dispersant in
    The gulf coast.

  5. […] We discussed Benzene in Part 1 – There are simply no safe levels of exposure to toxins. Part 1 Introduction […]

  6. […] From my Part 1 research on Benzene. There are simply no safe levels of exposure to toxins. Part 1 Introduction The short term breathing of high levels of benzene can result in death, while low levels can cause drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heart rate, headaches, tremors, confusion, and unconsciousness. Eating or drinking foods containing high levels of benzene can cause vomiting, irritation of the stomach, dizziness, sleepiness, convulsions, and death. […]

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