IN almost every coastal village along the southwestern peninsula residents are complaining of the pungent smell coming from the crude, spilled along the shoreline.
But according to medical experts, there would be no long-term negative health effects to people living near the oil spill.
Minister of Health Dr Fuad Khan said oil spills were an environmental problem and there were not many health risks associated.
“The smell may cause upset feelings but it is not really toxic. However, people can visit the health facilities in nearby areas,” he said.
Khan said the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) had numerous health facilities opened in the area. “Those residents who feel they are affected can visit any of the facilities,” he said.
The Express was told that at least 33 children are living in homes close to the shoreline hardest hit by the oil spill.
Dr Rajendra Parag, head of the Paediatrics Department at the San Fernando General Hospital, said the many young children living along the seashore will not be affected.
“I know that crude has a very pungent smell, but to say it will have any major effects...no,” he said.
Parag said the only persons likely to be affected by the high smell would be children prone to asthma. “There is a chance that if the smell goes through the area, it can aggravate it. But I cannot say of any major effects,” he said.
However, Parag warned parents to keep their children away from the beaches. He said children should not be allowed to bathe in the oil-stained water.
Petrotrin’s manager of Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Shyam Dyal said 25 residents were treated at the La Brea Lake Facility in Brighton. He said the residents were taken to the medical facility, set up by Petrotrin, by ambulance.
Dyal said 24 persons were discharged, while one was transferred to the Point Fortin District Hospital for further care.
The Express learned that the young child was treated for asthma.
The crude began washing ashore at Queens Beach in La Brea last week Wednesday. Some 15 families live along the coastline, near the beach.
One resident, Klevon Cadette, said his two young children—ages four and eight months—were sent to their grandmother’s home until the oil was cleared.