We are literally working day and night to inspect beaches and develop methods to remove oil and dispersant from our beach. We report findings and meet with state and federal officials. While we are making significant contributions to public health and safety, the progress remains excruciatingly slow. Our officials remain reluctant to even publicly address health and safety precautions. The beaches remain far from oil free, but we have learned many things along the way that can help reduce your exposure. Here are a few simple tips:
If you go to the beach, wash any exposed skin as soon as possible. Toxic exposure is dose and time dependent. More contact over longer time causes more damage.
Avoid digging in the sand. There is oil and dispersant on the surface sand, however, more often the concentrated layers are 8-20 inches below the surface.
Infants, children, and people with skin and respiratory problems are all more susceptible to acute exposure. Watch out for their exposure and avoid the beach if they show symptoms.
Do not allow children to play unsupervised (no brainer right!) Children sometimes put sand and other things in their mouths.
Avoid the darker sand areas. The black sand is not always oil, but we are finding that dispersed oil is collecting on top of the dark sand areas. This is especially true if the sand is crusty and raised. Either the oil is being trapped in the rough surface as it blows by or there is some chemical attraction between the two, either way, it’s accumulating on the dark sand so avoid contact.
If the wind is high or waves are breaking, there is increased risk of aerosolization of the oil and dispersant. There is also increased risk of dermal exposure due to disturbance of submerged oil and tarmats. If you have respiratory symptoms or skin irritations, wash off and limit your exposure.
Share what you know with others. Don’t assume that other folks on the beach know what risks they are taking. If you see a child digging through bands of oil, or eating the sand or seaweed, calmly tell the parents that you care and that it may not be healthy. At the very least, recommend washing off as soon as they are done for the day!