This is a guest article by Mannie Barling and Ashley Brooks. It certainly gave me pause for thought - Simon

While America ponders the effects of the BP Deepwater Horizon Well explosion on wild life and first responders, the plight of the average American in the Gulf has been either ignored or placed on the back-burner. The government, media and BP seem only concerned with what is in front of them, not what is either unseen or will happen in the future. In this case, we are talking about the very near future.

The explosion ignited crude oil and converted its most dangerous chemicals into gaseous plumes that bellowed into the atmosphere much like releasing a helium balloon at a birthday party. The clouds went up and up until not seen again, and then – forgotten. No, this is not a Disney movie. This is reality.

Crude oil is a mixture of many different kinds of organic compounds, many of which are highly toxic and cancer causing. Benzene is present in both crude oil and gasoline and is known to cause terminal leukemia, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and other blood and immune system diseases within 5-15 years of exposure.

Not one media source, the government or BP has made one comment about where the plumes of dangerous gas were going or when the plumes would land again. Maybe they thought Americans would think that the dangerous gases would just go out into space and be lost forever. It doesn’t work that way. What goes up must come down – somewhere.

Much was said by experts about nuclear fall out after the April 26,1986 nuclear disaster at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, located in the Ukraine region of Russia. Nuclear fall out is but one form of acid rain. If you consider the BP Deepwater Horizon rig explosion similar to a nuclear explosion, you can visualize a comparison between the nuclear acid rain and the acid rain generated by the explosion in the Gulf.

Acid rain is rain or any other form of precipitation (snow, sleet, fog, cloud water or dew) that is caused by emissions of compounds of ammonium, carbon, nitrogen and sulfur which react with the water molecules in the atmosphere to produce acids. Acid rain also releases metals such as lead, zinc, copper, chromium and aluminum into the water you drink.

Acid rain has been shown to have adverse impacts on forests, fresh waters and soils, killing insect and aquatic life-forms as well as causing damage to buildings and impacting human health.

When oil or petroleum distillates are burned, the combustion is not complete meaning that incompletely burned compounds, such as above, are left to form acid rain. Acid rain causes the following annual statistics:  550 premature deaths; 1,520 emergency room visits and 210,070 asthmatic days. Those numbers will only increase in the Gulf area after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, the use of chemical dispersants and the burning of crude oil in the ocean afterward.

Acid rain alters the pH of streams, lakes, water tables, personal wells and public tap water. In the past, acid rain has eliminated insect life and some fish species, including the brook trout in some lakes, streams and creeks in geographically sensitive areas. As acid rain flows through soils in a watershed, aluminum is released from soils into the lakes and streams located in that watershed.

All fresh water shrimp die when the pH drops below 6.0. Most fish eggs cannot hatch in water with a pH level of 5. At lower pH levels, some adult fish die leaving some acid lakes without fish. All fish die when the water goes below a pH level of 4.5. Most of the frogs and insects that live around the water will also die when the water reaches a pH of 4.5. Acid rain is an unseen disaster that cannot be measured easily nor completely. It is a disaster that keeps on giving.