Free Medical Clinic in NOLA Aug 31 – Sept 1

Thanks to Carl Webb for passing this along:

The National Association of Free Clinics will be conducting a free medical clinic for the uninsured on Tuesday, August 31 and Wednesday, September 1. This will be held at the Ernest M. Morial Convention Center. The purpose is to provide medical services to the uninsured, as the metro region continues to struggle post-Katrina and with the ongoing oil spill crisis.

They are in urgent need of medical and non-medical volunteers to help
staff this 2-day clinic. They especially need physicians (internists, pediatricians and family practitioners), nurses and nurse practitioners. I am writing to ask if you or any of your friends would be available to help with this. You can get the details of the event, volunteer shift times, etc. and can sign up at You can also view a video on the recent free medical clinic that was held in Washington, DC, to get a better idea of the work this great team is doing across the country here.

Dr. Ralph Freidin and his wife from Boston, MA have been organizing and running these free clinics. Dr. Freiden is a straight ally of the LGBT community, and serves as a member of the Board of Governors of the Human Rights Campaign, on the Boston Steering Committee. He contacted the New Orleans HRC Steering Committee for help in reaching out to the New Orleans metro area LGBT community to get volunteers and help spread the word.

Please consider volunteering and spread the word to your friends. We need to get the word out about this clinic to all people in our area who do not have access to medical care. This clinic will provide diagnosis and treatment for individuals as well as referrals for follow-up care.

Please let me know if you intend to volunteer, because I will forward
your name and contact info. to Dr. Freidin. Thank you so much for your consideration.

Best regards,

Lili Alpaugh
HRC New Orleans Steering Committee
HRC Board of Governors

BP & NOAA Coving Up Magnitude of Wildlife Deaths?

Update: I wrote this post last night. The video I talk about is now up on YouTube – here it is:

I just watched this story on Countdown with Keith Olbermann and I am incensed. Marine toxocologist Rikki Ott tells of eyewitnesses who claim people are “appearing” in the dark of night taking away carcasses of various sea life washing on shore.  She claims there are way more wildlife casualties than we are being told. and says “I’ve been able to get pictures of BP raking up bird carcasses and separating heads from bodies.” Allegedly cameras and cell phones are banned by BP representatives (who are implementing metal detectors) even though these are public beaches. In addition, oil spill workers and residents are reporting increasingly more health affects attributed to the oil such as skin rashes, burning throats and watering eyes.

Click here to hear this appalling report.

How the Oilspill Can Affect Your Health

Information you need to know if you’re participating in the oilspill clean-up or live in the gulf coast area (just how does inhaling oil fumes affect us here?). Of special note are the toxicity effects on children and pregnant women. Thanks to Mom’s Rising for alerting us to this valuable information. The following can be found online here.

Gulf Oil Spill Health Hazards


Dr. Michael Harbut, Karmanos Cancer Institute

Dr. Kathleen Burns, Sciencecorps

Many people will be exposed to airborne and waterborne chemicals as a result of the BP Gulf of Mexico spill.  It is important to understand the potential toxic effects and take appropriate steps to prevent or reduce exposure and harm.

Crude Oil Fact Sheet

Crude oil contains hundreds of chemicals, comprised primarily of hydrogen and carbon (e.g., simple straight chain paraffins, aromatic ring structures, naphthenes), with some sulfur, nitrogen, metal, and oxygen compounds (see Table D-1 in CDC, 1999 linked below).  Crude oil composition varies slightly by its source, but its toxic properties are fairly consistent. Chemicals such as benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are very toxic components of crude oil and of high concern.  These and other chemicals are volatile, moving from the oil into air.  Once airborne, they blow over the ocean for miles, reaching communities far from the oil spill.  They can be noticed as petroleum odors. Those working on the spill and people far from it can be exposed to crude oil chemicals in air.

We have prepared 1 page summaries for the public and for workers.  You can download and print them.

Chemicals being applied to the water, such as dispersants, are also of concern.  We don’t have chemical composition details at this time, so can’t provide information on health hazards, beyond noting that most are reported to contain petroleum distillates, which pose health hazards when aspirated.  See EPA’s summary of oil spill response products (March 2010):


Exposure can occur through skin contact, inhalation of contaminated air or soil, and ingestion of contaminated water or food. These can occur simultaneously.  Exposure pathways may result in localized toxicity (e.g., irritation of the skin following contact), but most health effects are systemic because ingredients can move throughout the body.  Exposure varies based on the duration and concentrations in contaminated media. Differences may result from location, work and personal activities, age, diet, use of protective equipment, and other factors.  Concurrent exposure to other toxic chemicals must be considered when evaluating toxic effects. Some chemicals in crude oil are volatile, moving into air easily, and these can often be detectable by smell.

Basic Physiological Effects

Crude oil is a complex mixture of chemicals that have varying abilities to be absorbed into the body through the skin, lungs, and during digestion of food and water. Most components of crude oil enter the bloodstream rapidly when they are inhaled or swallowed. Crude oil contains chemicals that readily penetrate cell walls, damage cell structures, including DNA, and alter the function of the cells and the organs where they are located. Crude oil is toxic, and ingredients can damage every system in the body:

respiratory                                                  nervous system, including the brain

liver                                                             reproductive/urogenital system

kidneys                                                       endocrine system

circulatory system                                      gastrointestinal system

immune system                                         sensory systems

musculoskeletal system

Damaging or altering these systems causes a wide range of diseases and conditions. In addition, interference with normal growth and development through endocrine disruption and direct damage to fetal tissue is caused by many crude oil ingredients (CDC, 1999). DNA damage can cause cancer and multi-generational birth defects.

Acute Exposure Hazards – brief exposure at relatively high levels[1]

Crude oil contains many chemicals that can irritate the skin and mucous membranes on contact.  Irritant effects can range from slight reddening to burning, swelling (edema), pain,and permanent skin damage.   Commonly reported effects of acute exposure to crude oil through inhalation or ingestion include difficulty breathing, headaches, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and other central nervous system effects. These are more likely to be noticed than potentially more serious effects that don’t have obvious signs and symptoms: lung, liver and kidney damage, infertility, immune system suppression, disruption of hormone levels, blood disorders, mutations, and cancer.

Chronic Exposure Hazards – long-term exposure at relatively low levels

This type of exposure should be avoided, if at all possible, because the potential for serious health damage is substantial.  Chronic health effects are typically evaluated for specific crude oil components (see CDC, 1999), and vary from cancer to permanent neurological damage.  They cover a range of diseases affecting all the organ systems listed above.

Susceptible Subgroups

Children are vulnerable to toxic chemicals in crude oil that disrupt normal growth and development.  Their brains are highly susceptible to many neurotoxic ingredients. Endocrine disruptors in crude oil can cause abnormal growth, infertility, and other health conditions. Children’s exposures may be higher than adults and can include contaminated soil or sand. Newborns are especially vulnerable due to incompletely formed immune and detoxification systems.

Many people with medical conditions are more susceptible to crude oil toxicity because chemical ingredients can damage organ systems that are already impaired. Specific susceptibilities depend on the medical condition (e.g., inhalation poses risks for those with asthma and other respiratory conditions).

People taking medications that reduce their detoxification ability, and those taking acetaminophen, aspirin, haloperidol, who have nutritional deficiencies or who concurrently drink alcohol may be more susceptible. Some inherited enzyme deficiencies also increase susceptibility (listed in CDC, 1999).

People exposed to other toxic chemicals at work or home may be at higher risk.

Pregnancy places increased stress on many organ systems, including the liver, kidneys, and cardiovascular system. Chemicals in crude oil that are toxic to these same systems can pose serious health risks. Pregnancy also requires a careful balance of hormones to maintain a health pregnancy and healthy baby. Endocrine disruptors in crude oil can jeopardize the hormone balance.

The developing fetus is susceptible to the toxic effects of many chemicals in crude oil. Many cause mutations, endocrine disruption, skeletal deformities, and other types of birth defects.

Personal and Public Protection

It is critical that people who work with or around crude oil wear appropriate personal protective equipment such as gloves, masks, respirators, and water repellant clothing, to minimize exposure.  The necessary equipment will depend on the kind of exposure that can occur (dermal, inhalation, ingestion). See OSHA guidance at OSHA 2010 link below. Susceptible members of the public require notice when exposure may occur (e.g., when contaminated air masses move inland) so they can take protective actions.


CDC, 1999:

OSHA, 2010:

NLM: – very limited information on human health

The National Toxicology Program (NIEHS-NIH) provides information on carcinogenic crude oil ingredients (e.g., benzene) & limited information on reproductive hazards

California’s EPA provides a list of chemicals know to cause cancer and/or reproductive harm:

Children’s Health – International pediatric consensus statement regarding children’s susceptibility to toxic chemicals: This contains a link to 120 scientific papers presented at the Conference on Children’s Susceptibility to Environmental Hazards.

Federal focus on children’s environmental health including policies designed to protect children:

It is useful to directly consult the medical literature to obtain current information. The National Library of Medicine access to peer reviewed medical studies on chemicals and mixtures including crude oil is at:

For up to date information and ways to help with the Gulf oil disaster see:


Michael R. Harbut, MD, MPH, FCCP
Professor, Internal Medicine, Wayne State University
Chief, Center for Occupational & Environmental Medicine

Director of the Environmental Cancer Initiative
Karmanos Cancer Institute
Providence Hospital
118 N. Washington, Royal Oak, Michigan 48067-1751

Kathleen Burns, Ph.D.



Lexington, Massachusetts


[1] The exposure of susceptible individuals, such as newborns and people with specific health problems, may result in acute exposure health effects at levels that would not result in observable harm in healthy adults.


Femme Fatale Friday: Jennifer Sachs

I first met Jennifer through emails with Katrina Warriors, a local group who came together to support area women and girls shortly after the storm. Founding nodes of the Katrina Warriors Network were
Ashe Cultural Arts Center, The Guardians Institute, Loyola Women’s Resource Center, Newcomb College Center for Research on Women, The New Orleans Regional Alliance Against Abuse (2005-2006), the New Orleans Women’s Studies Consortium, UNO Women’s Center, and V-Day.

Jennifer is a one woman community service dynamo working her magic all over the internets. She maintains the official FaceBook group page for Katrina Warriors in addition to the fan page, Katrina Warriors (heart) Yoni De Lis.

Jennifer has another FaceBook page, Holistic Health and Natural Healing, that is one of my favorite pages. Her page states,

“This group is intended to serve as a networking – informational site for any & all people interested in the beliefs, practices, and activism regarding the union of the body, mind, spirit and soul through Holistic Healing.”

She links to information and articles in various disciplines of the natural/holistic lifestyle such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, Aromatherapy, nutrition and herbal medicine and issues a newsletter through FaceBook as well.

Her latest venture on the web is FaceBook page and blog NOLA-Haiti Solidarity that focuses on expressions of solidarity, donation information and status updates about Haiti.

Below are links to all of Jennifer’s pages and her Twitter ~ this is one information guru you want to follow!

NOLA-Haiti Solidarity Blog

FaceBook Page: NOLA-Haiti Solidarity

FaceBook Page: Katrina Warriors Network

FaceBook Page: Katrina Warriors (heart) Yoni De Lis

Follow Katrina Warriors on Twitter

NOLA Has Pink Power

So how ’bout them Saints? Woo Hoo! Was that a great game or what? And how much did we love the players in their hot pink shoes ‘n gloves in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month? That rocked! As BrookeAhleyB tweeted, “hott guys slappin ass with pink gloves. AND we’re winning???? BEST. GAME. EVER.” Yes, indeed!

Great Breast Cancer Awareness tees from Zazzle.

Which brings me to two things about BCA Month I want to tell y’all about.

First, this Saturday, October 11 is the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event at the Lakefront Arena. Here is the link to all the information. The site says, “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is your opportunity to honor breast cancer survivors, remember people we have lost, and raise funds and awareness to help end this disease. Making Strides is not a race; it is a celebration of survivorship, an occasion to express hope, and a shared goal to end a disease that threatens the lives of so many people we love.”

Miss Malaprop has started her own team, Craft for a Cure Louisiana, “for crafters, artists, friends and family who want to make a difference and put an end to breast cancer.” Please consider joining or donating to her team. I daresay most of us know at least one person who’s been touched in some way by this disease. This is a great opportunity to show your support and help highlight awareness in our city.

Second, I want to point you to the Flickr group “Pink Ribbon 2009”. Thanks to HauntedFleurDeLy’s for bringing this group to my attention by inviting me. She is a very talented photographer and I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying her photo’s on Flickr for a few years now. Unfortunately, I see she’s moved physically from NOLA but I know this city will always be a part of her. And no, I haven’t posted any photo’s on there yet but I hope to add something worthy soon. If anyone out there has photo’s appropriate to the theme, I’m sure they would be welcome.

Women, I know you hear it all the time but it can never be stressed too often:
~ Get informed
~ Perform self-exams on a regular basis
~Familiarize yourselves with the ACS screening guidelines
~ Be proactive! Knowledge is power!

Local Resources for free/low cost mammograms:

St. Thomas Breast Imaging Center
1020 St. Andrew
Free/Low Cost Mammo’s for women 40-65

LA Breast and Cervical Health Program
1615 Poydras, Suite 1400
Free/Low Cost Mammo’s for women 40-64