The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has said that some toxins connected to BP's oil leak may be harmful to pregnant women under certain conditions. Its website stated that pregnant women along the Gulf Coast could be affected by the strong smell, and advised them to stay indoors and to set their air conditioners in order to reuse indoor air. The CDC said that a special respirator, N95, that controls odor, may relieve nausea, but it is not necessary for safety.
The CDC said that the oil may contain chemicals, that under certain conditions, may harm a fetus. However, when it reviewed sampling data from the EPA, it did not find high levels of dangerous chemicals that had the potential of harming pregnant or their fetuses. As a matter of fact, it said that the levels were very below what is considered harmful.
According to the CDC, oil contains petroleum hydrocarbons, and their effect on pregnant women depends on how the mother came into contact with the oil, how long she was in contact, how often she was in contact, and the general health of the mother and the baby.
Gina Soloman, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Council, told Women's eNews, the source for this article, that she thinks pregnant women should simply not go into oil-contaminated waters. That sounds like very sensible advice. Soloman points out that petroleum hydrocarbons are toxic and irritate airways and skin. She goes on to say that volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, in oil "can cause acute health effects such headaches, dizziness and nausea. Over the long term, many of these chemicals have been linked to cancer, so there are lots of reasons to worry about inhaling them."
Dana Warner, a geologist who was 38 weeks pregnant on July 19, said that she is concerned about the chemicals and dispersants that have been dumped in the water to handle the oil leak. She said, "I'm just enjoying the sand." That would be my recommendation to all pregnant women in that area.