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July 2nd, 2010
05:12 PM ET

Oil spill workers getting masks

More than 70 days into the gulf oil spill some workers are getting special breathing apparatuses.

The Deepwater Horizon Response Unified Command, which includes BP and government agencies, announced Thursday teams working at the well site, and workers conducting controlled burns of the oil are being given respirators.

Prior to this, workers had not been given breathing protection.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency oil can give off toxic vapors as it evaporates.

Chris Coulon, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the Unified Command says air sampling is being conducted and there is “no indication at all” that the respirators being distributed are necessary.  She says they are being distributed as a precaustion in case they become necessary.

Coulon says other crews working on the response, such as beach cleanup teams, and skimming vessels are not being given the protective breathing equipment, but can wear their own personal masks if they chose.

On May 27th BP’s Director of External Affairs John Curry responded to CNN questions about why workers were not given respirators at the time by saying “We are trying to keep them (the workers) out of places that they need respirators, and all of the readings we have taken so far have shown they don’t need them.”


soundoff (20 Responses)
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    Now isn't that nice of them, ahhhh, they actually thought of people's health, think they waited long enough?????

    July 2, 2010 at 17:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. crystal

    People who offered to help clean up oil covered beaches are not allowed to wear anything that covers their faces??? Yet there are many complaints of headaches and other sickness due to the spill!

    July 2, 2010 at 22:48 | Report abuse | Reply
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    i think that the oil spill is very sad. the people who are trying to fix it are working hard and noone should make fun of them.

    July 4, 2010 at 14:55 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.