EPA: Gulf Coast air, water and sediment quality remain normal (6/8)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: According to the most recent data, the Environmental Protection Agency has found that air quality levels for ozone and particulates are normal on the Gulf coastline for this time of year. Likewise, water and sediment samples along the Gulf Coast did not reveal elevated levels of chemicals usually found in oil.
EPA has observed odor-causing pollutants associated with petroleum products in the air along the coastline at low levels. Some of these chemicals may cause short-lived effects like headache, eye, nose and throat irritation, or nausea. People may be able to smell some of these chemicals at levels well below those that would cause short-term health problems. Anyone experiencing these and other symptoms should call the Medical Support Line at 1-888-623-0287.
The last point I wanted to make is we did talk about what the environmental quality is down here right now. Lisa Jackson has been down here all week and she went all across the country -- or all across the state of Louisiana. She’s going to be monitoring what’s going on in Alabama and Florida as well.
So far, the air quality, water quality, is continually being tested and doesn’t seem to be much elevated above normal levels. But I want to emphasize something that she just told us, and that is people who are onsite involved in cleanup, they have to be mindful of the fact that we’re dealing with toxins here. This could be -- this could make people very sick if they’re not careful. They’ve got to get the appropriate training. They need the appropriate equipment. If they get sick, we now have health centers that are stationed at each of these points.
Lisa, do you want to talk about that briefly?
EPA ADMINISTRATOR LINDA JACKSON: Yes, sir. We have health and safety officers and stations at each muster point. So if someone does come back in and feels in any way that they’ve been exposed, or even if they just don’t feel well, the first thing to do is to report it so that we have a record of it, we can track it down, and we can ensure that they’re not in any way penalized for reporting and making sure that they put their health and the health of their family first.