Cloud Types – Formation and Interesting Facts

How are Clouds Formed?

Clouds are made of tiny water drops or small ice crystals sticking on dust particles in the atmosphere. The droplets have a diameter of about a hundredth of a millimeter. Depending on the height and the temperature of the atmosphere, the clouds are composed of ice or water droplets, which can remain liquid at temperatures as low as -30 °C due to their size. At temperatures below -30 °C the clouds are composed only of ice crystals.

The first stage of cloud formation is the evaporation of water in the form of tiny gas particles,surrounding us on the earth. The air can carry a certain amount of evaporated water, and the warmer the air, the higher that amount. The vapor then starts rising, and concentrates in the atmosphere, clinging to numerous particles (aerosols) floating in the air (from automobiles, fires, volcanoes, etc.).

Together with vapor rising, a cooling process begins. After reaching a level, known as the saturation point of the air, when the humidity reaches 100%, and the air is “full” of water vapor, no more can evaporate. Along with the decrease in temperature with the onward movement, some of the water vapor sticks to aerosols when they collide (condensation).

When this, so called, “dew point” is reached, the rising water vapor begins to form tiny bits of water – droplets or ice crystals, initiating the primary structure of the cloud.

Later the cloud is created, as bigger water droplets are formed around the particles, sticking together with other droplets, forming massive collections of tiny water droplets and crystals. After the formation of the cloud, the droplets or ice particles, can either continue growing by joining together,or fall to the ground as rain or snow, or change back into water vapor. The abundance of ways in which clouds are formed result in the existence of an amazing variety of picturesque shapes, sizes and textures of clouds.

Why Do Clouds Form at Different Heights in the Atmosphere?

The various cloud types have different specific features because of the interaction among numerous factors, such as the water vapor amount, the temperature, the character and direction of wind, and the availability and interplay of other air masses. At higher altitudes colder clouds are formed, while the warmer ones are created near the earth’s surface. The warmer, lower clouds are formed when humidity is higher, and they can contain more water vapor than the higher and colder ones. This causes the greater size and thickness of the clouds, closer to the earth. These features are related to temperature and pressure of the air, as well as the amount of the water evaporated. After the sun has hidden in the evening, the air near the earth’s surface begins cooling down, diminishing its vapor holding capacity. This leads to a rise of humidity, although the water vapor amount in air has not changed. The cooling continues until100% humidity is reached, and water in the air condenses into little droplets.

When the air moves up, higher into the atmosphere, it becomes cooler. Physically, this is the result of its expansion, since gases that expand get cooler.The air close to the surface is a subject to a lot of pressure, caused by the large quantities of air above it. Although air is light, it does have a mass. The miles of air above the ground cause significant pressure on the air below, compressing it. Moving up in the atmosphere, the air is gradually released by the pressure and expands. Since the atmosphere is evenly distributed across the globe, and the amount of pressure is based on altitude,air cools at a constant rate per the amount of height it rises. On the other hand, water vapor is also spread quite evenly through the air in a given geographic place. Therefore, the two factors determining the height of cloud formation,are temperature, and humidity.

Different Types of Clouds and How to Distinguish Them

Clouds can have various shapes, textures, and sizes.There are multiple factors that influence the conditions for cloud formation, such as temperature, humidity and altitude. Depending on their properties, height and appearance, clouds are divided into several main types.According to their composition, they are grouped into water, ice and mixed types. Their height determines them as high, medium, low, and clouds with vertical development. In terms of appearance,they could be buy (balls), layered,and wavy. Convective clouds are produced from warm air pockets rising directly from the underlying surface. They are smaller, a hundred yards to several miles across. Stratiform clouds, cover larger areas and are caused by broader layers of more slowly rising air, and have a more uniform, featureless appearance,covering the whole sky. The different cloud types have two parts in their name – the first part of the name refers to their height, while the second describes the appearance. When clouds form at the highest altitudes, they obtain the prefix “cirro”. Middle level clouds have the prefix “alto”, while low clouds do not get a prefix.

High-Level Clouds

High clouds are located at a height
between 6 km and 13 km in Earth’s atmosphere. Regardless of the season, they always consist of ice crystals. Their thickness is low and they do not cause raining. They usually move at a speed of 70 – 80 km/h, but can reach up to 350 km/h. Because of the great height at which they are located, their movement is typically imperceptible, but if it becomes visible to the naked eye, it means that their deterioration is imminent. According to the international classification, three main types of high clouds are observed – cirrus, cirrostratus, and cirrocumulus.

Cirrus (Ci) Clouds

cirrusCirrus (Ci) clouds – high over 6 km,single, thin, made entirely of ice crystals usually white clouds, sometimes with a silky sheen. They are almost transparent with a fibrous structure, and the sun and the moon are clearly visible through them. These clouds move slowly, take many different forms: of feathers, fibers with branching white lines, or hooks screwed up. Cirrus clouds are a sign of warm, moist air rising up over the cold air.“Mare’s Tail”(or Uncinus)is a term,often used to describe wispy cirrus resembling a horse’s tail in the wind.


Cirrostratus (Cs)

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERACirrostratus (Cs) – soft white blanket-like, silky. When the light passes through the hexagonal ice crystals of these clouds, it is dispersed or refracted as if passing through a prism, forming a ring or halo. With the approaching of a warm front, cirrus clouds thicken into cirrostratus, which may, in turn, compress the lower cloud layers. Resembling patches, often arranged in a regular pattern, they can give the appearance of the mackerel sky.These clouds are usually located above 5.5 – 6 km, indicating a large amount of moisture in the upper atmosphere.

Cirrocumulus (Сс)

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERACirrocumulus (Сс) – a high-altitude tropospheric, thin transparent layer of clouds, composed of small white flakes or tiny pellets, arranged in rows, or groups or rows of small waves across the sky. Theyusually appear before a warm atmospheric front, and occur at an altitude of 5 km to 12 km. Cirrocumulus that looks like fish scales, is popularly called“Mackerel Sky”.

Mid-Level Clouds

The clouds of this group are located at an altitude between 2 km and 6 km. Depending on the height, the season, and the vertical temperature difference, these clouds can consist of water droplets, ice crystals, or a combination of the two, including supercooled droplets, whose temperatures are below the freezing point. The two main mid-level cloud types are altostratus and altocumulus.

Altostratus (As)

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAAltostratus (As) – translucent,thin, gray or bluish clouds,with a flat and uniform texture, diapered with fibrous structures. Typical mixed clouds,occurring most often after the Perez -layer (Cs) clouds, at 6 km height, subsequently descending to 2 km, when they increase their thickness. Their formation indicates the approach of a warm front, and may thicken and lower, resulting in rain or snow. These clouds do not produce significant precipitation, apart from sprinkles or light showers.(Image Source:National Weather Service)

Altocumulus (Ас)

altocumulusAltocumulus (Ас) – thin,cumulus cloud layers,or networks of separate lines, arranged in regular patterns; evenly blurry shapes, or balls with shaded areas, sometimes organized into floors. They are heap-like clouds with convective characteristics. Altocumulus clouds may align in rows, with axes indicating localized areas of ascending moist air, and clear zones with descending, drier air. This type of clouds may indicate instability, especially in the morning, which could later transform into deep convection in the afternoon or evening.

Low-Level Clouds:

Low-level clouds lack a prefix in their names.They are derived from “strato-” or “cumulo-”, in accordance with their characteristics. Low clouds occur below 2 km, and usually consist of liquid water droplets, or supercooled droplets, with the exception of cold winter storms, when ice crystals and snow can comprise a part of the clouds.


StratusStratus (St) clouds form a stable, horizontal,gray,uniform, and flat layer, that can cover the entire visible sky, similar to a fog, but not reaching the ground. Sometimes they are located 50-100 m up the ground, preceding the onset of a warm atmospheric front. This cloud type is developed due to forced uplift, and may be precipitation-free, or can cause periodic light precipitation or drizzle.


cumulusCumulus (Cu) clouds are low, individual billowy globs, with flat bottoms and rounded tops, resembling cauliflower. Commonly, they grow vertically, and are at least as tall as they are wide. This cloud typeis formed from pockets of rising air on sunny days, and is often a precursor of other cloud types, when influenced by instability. One of the specific features of this type is the constant change of the outlines, taking the shapes of almost anything (animals, faces, etc.). These are usually a sign of fair weather. When they develop in the middle or high part of the atmosphere, due to the rapid rising and sinking of air currents, they are called cumulonimbus – tall, deep and dark able to bring lightning, heavy rain and severe weather conditions (hail, stormy winds, or tornadoes).

A cumulus cloud, developed within an unstable layer, with a significant vertical growth, is called cumulus congestus. In the presence of atmospheric instability enough moisture, a strong updraft can develop, leading to the formation of adeep cumulonimbus cloud. By its vertical length, it encompasses the lower, middle and upper levels of the troposphere, contributing to thunderstorms with heavy rain.

Stratocumulus (Sc)

Stratocumulus (Sc)Stratocumulus (Sc) are hybrids between the layered stratus and cellular cumulus. They form a layer of cloud clumps with thick and thin areas, appearing in the atmosphere, ahead of, or behind a frontal system. They resemble the Altocumulus (Ас) clouds, but are distinguished by a denser structure and a lower location. Most commonly lens-shaped stationary clouds, parallel bands, or spherical masses, arranged in groups, or waves,covering the entire sky.

Nimbostratus (Ns)

Nimbostratus (Ns)Nimbostratus (Ns) are formless, thick, stratus or stratocumulus clouds, producing steady heavy rains or snow. They form an inverted layer at a height of 3000 m;with a dark-gray, relatively uniform composition. Developed due to a forced broad scale lifting of saturated air, these clouds can cover the entire horizon,with a high vertical thickness, which may reach 6 km. Their base is often a low-lying cloudy blanket. They consist of water drops, often supercooled, and sometimes – ice crystals. The shapes vary greatly – they are seen as pinnacles, domes, or towers, showing the atmosphere instability,or a preceding rainfall.

There is a wide spectrum of other cloud types, some of which rare. Most of these amazing formations, can be developed and seen, after some specific conditions have taken place.


NacreousNacreous – ice clouds in thе stratosphere over the polar countries, developed at a height of 15-25 km in, implicated in the formation of ozone holes, and associated with strong tropospheric winds and storms. They are overflowing in all colors of the rainbow, and are observed in the northern latitudes a few hours after sunset. These colorful clouds have the nickname “mother of pearl clouds”, and are a type of wave clouds, like the lenticular clouds.The ice crystals, forming these type of clouds, are pushed up into the stratosphere by strong wave winds, that they start oscillating.


NoctilucentNoctilucent – night, bluish-silver, bright and pervasive polar cloud layers,often located in the polar mesosphere, at a height between 60 and90 kilometers. Made of ice crystals, and having the form of lines and wrinkles, they can cover the sky. Extremely rare, faint to be seen,they are visible in summer,only after the sun is below the horizon in a deep twilight. These clouds form under restrictive conditions – at a high altitude, requiring the availability of water vapor, dust, and very cold temperatures to form.

Shelf Clouds

Shelf CloudsShelf Clouds – they are low (2 km), horizontal, wedge-shaped cloud, attached to the leading edge base of a parent cloud, usually a thunderstorm, or any type of convective clouds. Upward cloud motion can be seen in the front outer part, while the underside often seems turbulent and wind-torn. Formed as the cool, descending air from a storm cloud’s downdraft extends across the earth’s surface, with a leading edge (gust front). This outflow enters under the warmer air, drawn into the storm’s updraft. With the lifting of the warm, moist air by the lower and cooler air, the water condenses, developing a cloud rolling together with the different winds above and below.

Accessory Clouds

Accessory clouds wallpaper 15Accessory clouds – (wall clouds,anvil clouds,and funnel clouds). They are connected to and dependent on a larger cloud system for their existence.


Wall Cloud

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWall Cloud - (pedestal cloud). It is a large, up to 8 km wide, a localized cloud formation that develops in the Northern Hemisphere, beneath a cumulonimbus cloud, often leading to tornadoes. It is usually under the rain-free base of a thunderstorm, indicating the area of the strongest updraft. Some of these are harmless, but rotating wall clouds are a bad sign of the available “mesocyclone” in a thunderstorm, increasing the risk of a tornado. This type of clouds is formed when, coinciding with the direction of the steering winds, an inflow region of warm, moist air rises and converges, overpowering wet, rain-cooled air from the normally downwind downdraft. The air temperature drops and the dew point increases,as the warm air continues to entrain the cooler air. With rising this air gets more moisture-saturated, forming additional wall clouds.

Funnel Clouds

Funnel cloudsFunnel clouds - funnel-shaped clouds of water droplets,formed by a rotating column of air and condensation associated with a rotating wind, extending from the base of a cloud (a cumulonimbus or towering cumulus) but not reaching the ground.Most tornadoes begin as funnel clouds.It is usually the visible portion of a tornado,but it is not a tornado, itself, if the circulation does not contact the ground.


AnvilsAnvils - Mostly ice crystal particle clouds, blown downwards from the top of a cumulonimbus thunderstorm clouds, initially formed in the upper parts of thunderstorms. Their shape is an effect of the rising air, which and spreads out. This happens because the stratosphere air is warmer than the rising air in the cloud, preventing the relatively cooler anvil air from further rising.


FractusFractus - (scud and cloud tags). They are small, ragged,and isolated;with irregular patterns, resembling torn pieces of cotton candy. Changing constantly, fractus clouds form and dissipate rapidly, not having clearly defined bases. Often unorganized,ominous,noticed around the base of thunderstorms, they develop from a larger cloud, and are generally sheared by strong winds.


MammatusMammatus - They develop in a pouch-like shape,from cumulonimbus clouds in its latter stages. Protruding downwards, mammatus clouds can be seen hanging from the anvil of a severe thunderstorm, but usually they are not dangerous, only accompanying the storms. These clouds develop as the moisture laden air sinks, and remain visible until the air sinks to a degree, where the relative humidity drops below 100%.

Hole-Punch Clouds

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHole-punch Clouds - (fallstreak hole). Strange holes in the cloud layer,usually circular, but can also be oblong, or pentagram shaped.Their development starts when the water temperature in the cloud is below freezing, but the water has not frozen. They begin as a hole in the clouds,later filling up with cloud masses. When sections of the water begin freezing, the surrounding water vapor freezes as well, commencing to descend -a rounded hole is made.It is thought that the introduction of large numbers of tiny ice crystals into the cloud layer starts this domino effect of evaporation which creates the hole.


LenticularLenticular - (altocumulus standing lenticularis). These clouds are stationary, formed above the mountains, with shapes resembling lens or flying saucers. They are aligned at right-angles to the wind direction, and form as air is lifted to saturation over the top of mountains.

Comma Cloud

Comma cloudComma cloud - comma-like, when seen on satellite imagery, this is a low pressure cyclone,a cloud type developing and existing in cold air. The head of the comma is formed by the low pressure center and warm front, while the cold front creates the tail. There are several similar phenomena observed within cold air. It is a small- to middle-sized cloud spiral consisting of white cloud cells.

Rope Cloud

Rope cloudRope cloud - these clouds are narrow funnel-shaped, like skinny and elongated ropes, often in snakelike form, along cold fronts or other boundaries. Created at about 2 km above the earth,they are usually associated with severe thunderstorms, or marking the dissipating stage of tornadoes. A narrow line of cumuliform clouds that develops along a cold front, well-developed over the sea. The line may grow when a front weakens, decreasing its slope, and a cold air outflow is available at the surface, causing increased convection ahead of the front. Often a clear band could be seen behind the rope cloud, where the air is subsiding between it and the residual cloud, along the cold front.


ContrailContrail - These are narrow, elongated cloud formed in the cold air at high altitudes by the jet exhaust condensation.

How is Fog Formed?

Fog forms when water evaporates from a surface (the ocean, another water body, or moist ground) or is added to the air. Water vapor can also be added to the air via winds, precipitation, daytime heating, and the evaporation of water from a surface, or air rising over mountains (orographic uplift). Along with the beginning of water evaporation, the obtained vapor starts to rise, bonding with aerosol particles to form water droplets. These droplets then condense, forming fog. Fog is considered a dense, low cloud type, consisting of small water droplets, close to ground level or in contact with it. This happens when the relative air humidity slightly exceeds the saturation point. In highly polluted air the nuclei may grow sufficiently to cause fog at humidities less than 95%. “Fog”can also refer to clouds of smoke or ice particles, or their mixture. There are several different ways of fog formation. The upslope fogs that are formed by a process, in which the humid air is forced to ascend up the sides of hills and mountains.The most stable fogs develop when the surface is colder than the air above – in the presence of a temperature inversion. It is also observed when cold air moves over a warm, wet surface and becomes saturated by its the evaporation of moisture.

Inversion fogs are formed from a downward extension of a layer of stratus cloud, under the base of a low-level temperature inversion. Radiation fog develops in the evenings and nights when the heat, absorbed by the surface during the day, radiates into the air. Often the term “ground fog” is used to refer to radiation fog. Advection fog is formed after the condensation, occurring after warm, moist air masses pass over and contact a colder wet surface (advection). Valley fog starts in mountain valleys, when mountains prevent the dense air from escaping in the winter.Freezing fog is a type, developing when the liquid fog droplets freeze to form solid surfaces. The tops of the mountains are often covered in freezing fog. Frontal fog is another form, observed when raindrops, falling from a relatively warm air above a frontal surface, evaporate into cooler air close to the surface.

Why are Clouds White?

When the light beams interact with particles in the air, some of their energy is scattered, meaning that the light beam changes its direction and color. Physically explained, the amount of light scattered is expressed as a function of the particle size, relative to the wavelength of the light falling on it. Cloud particles, the billions of tiny water droplets and ice crystal particles, are large enough, and in the right amount to scatter any color of light that falls on them, a process called “Mie scattering”. This multiple,combined scattering of light at all wavelengths(red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet) in the clouds, is percepted by the human eye as white color. Smaller droplets allow the scattering of more sunlight, whereas larger drops let more sunlight pass through them. For this reason, the heavily raining part of a cloud is brighter than the other, only cloudy part.

Why Do Clouds Turn Gray?

The main factors causing clouds to turn gray are their thickness and height. When clouds are thin, they allow a large part of the light to penetrate and pass through them, appearing white. However, as their thickness increases, they block sunlight – too many particles prevent parts of the light from escaping, less light is able to pass through. That makes the bottoms of clouds look darker, perceived by people as gray. With increasing their vertical size, the bottoms of the clouds look grayer. It is generally assumed that a cloud around 1 km thick, hardly allows any sunlight to make its way through. That is why some vertical clouds are white on top, but and dark at the bottom.The bottom of the cloud could also be located in the shadow of other clouds when the top of a cloud casts a shadow upon its own base, or the sun could be in the process of setting and shining only on the tops of the clouds. Larger drops of water (raindrops), found near the bottom of a cloud, absorb much more light than the smaller drops. The darkness or grayness of a cloud depends also on the sky in the background – surrounded by a bright sky, clouds look darker,while they seem lighter in front of darker sky.

Why are Clouds Red During Sunset?

Clouds can beautifully catch the last red and orange rays of the setting sun, and the first light of the dawn, reflecting them to the ground. Sunset and sunrise are often colored in red due to the very low, or just below the horizon, the position of the sun, causing the light to travel horizontally from the sun, not vertically down,as during the day. The light passes a longer way through the atmosphere, crossing a greater thickness of air.The interaction with air molecules and participles leads to the scattering of a high amount of violet and blue light out of the beam, leaving the reddish undisturbed.The tremendously high number of scattering “events”, happening along the way,is a process known as “multiple scattering” (or “Rayleigh scattering”). So, just before the sun has hidden from view, its light reaches our eyes afterbeing refracted, with most of the short wavelengths efficiently scattered out of the beam of sunlight. Clouds can act like a canvas for the reddish sunset sky, taking a part of the color. A similar phenomenon, twilight “afterglows”, follows volcanic eruptions. Certain cloud types are more closely related to red sunsets than others -they must be high to intercept the light that has not suffered color loss by passing through the atmospheric boundary layer, containing dust participles. This explains why the shades of orange and red are most often with cirrus and altocumulus layers, while being rare with low clouds.

How Do Clouds Move?

Movement of the air, caused by temperature or pressure differences, is experienced as wind. Generally, clouds move at a speed and direction determined by the prevailing winds, at the altitudes where the clouds are occurring. Wind direction and speed depend on the magnitude of the pressure differences between the areas of high and low pressure. Usually, the wind speed increase with altitude up to a certain point. While the clouds, taking part in a thunderstorm travel at about 50 km per hour, rivers of fast-moving air in the atmosphere, called “jet streams,” occur at approximate altitudes from 7 to 12 km above the ground. The speed of the jet stream can reach over 280km per hour, causing the clouds at that level to move very quickly. At a lower level, the wind speed and direction may be different from those above, that is why you can often see clouds at several different levels, moving in diverse directions. Air temperature is higher at the ground,which is heated by the sun, and decreases with increasing altitude. This vertical temperature difference leads to a considerable uplift of air, since the warmer surface air is lighter than the colder air above it. Frontal wedging, a type of movement, occurs when a cloud,that is a part of a warmer air mass, encounters and collide at its surface with a colder air mass. This convergence forces the warmer cloud up, over the cold one, bringing rain along the front meeting edge.

Why Do Clouds Float?

Although water in the clouds is denser and heavier than air,it seems that gravity does not act to bring them down to earth, but leaves them to float in the air. By definition, floating describes an entity kept up within the medium by buoyancy forces, due to density differences. Actually, the clouds do not “float” in the air, because their water droplets are heavier than the surrounding air, and gravity does pull the cloud down. As known, rising air current is one of the steps in the cloud formation. Cloud droplets within this rising air are continually pushed upward at a rate greater than that at which gravity pulls them downward. The result is that the cloud droplets rise within the updraft, which can be seen by growing and changing bumps of white at the top of the cloud, an indication of updrafts and continued growth.

When the cloud droplets begin falling,the air below them cause some resistance, (aerodynamic drag), with values, depending on the object’s mass, shape and size. When an object falls through the air, or water, the aerodynamic drag force acts against the gravity, causing the achievement of the terminal velocity of the falling object after a certain time/distance, determining the falling rate toward the surface thereafter. This small fall velocity is countered by the rising air, so that the cloud droplets actually rise. Only when the droplets are caught in a downdraft,or congregate to form rain drops (300 times larger), is the falling time limited to a range of minutes.This combination of droplets slow descent, and their fast evaporation below the cloud, gives us the perception that the cloud is floating on air.


Image Sources


This entry was posted in: Blog.

Animal Cruelty Overview, Disaster Preparedness, Pet Care & Poison Control

Animal Cruelty Overview, Disaster Preparedness, Pet Care & Poison Control

This report broadly covers animal cruelty, its roots, causes and organizations that are put in place to deal with the issue; animal poison control such as toxic medications and toxic plants – pet reactions to various chemical combinations; disaster and emergency pet preparedness; hurricane Katrina overview; rescue and shelter information along with a complete list of animal shelter search engines / directories; basics of pet and dog care.

Cruelty to Animals – Features and Prevention

Image Source: RSPCA

Animal cruelty could be expressed in ways, broadly grouped in two categories: neglect, or intentional cruelty. Neglect is the lack of adequate provision for the basic needs – water, food, shelter, or care. Some examples of neglect are: starvation; dehydration; inadequate shelter; parasite infestations; failure to seek veterinary care when needed; confinement without enough light, ventilation, or space, etc. Ignorance of the owner is one of the possible reasons of neglect, which could be amended by law enforcement, via proper education and training on improving the animal’s living conditions. However, if the owner does not make undertake the required actions, investigators of the animal rights protection authorities can take away the animal ensuring that it will receive the needed care. Intentional cruelty involve causing a physical harm or injury on an animal. Even nowadays, hundreds of animals are heavily beaten, burned, poisoned or otherwise brutally killed in unbearable pain and heartbreaking suffering. Some forms of animal cruelty, such as fighting dogs for sport, date back as far as the 12th Century (Villavicencio, 2007). Cockfighting had been present in American history and culture, until June of 2007 when it was made illegal in the last of the 50 states to ban it, although the brutal blood sport still occurs to some degree.

Other intentional animal cruelty expressions include the violent training and culling methods used by organized, large commercial scale dog fighters, as well as the neglect to animals in the puppy mills, where they are considered only as a means for gaining profits. Although largely banned or restricted, canned (trophy) hunting still exist, in which animals (often – exotic) are kept in a confined area (e.g. fenced-in), in order to increase the chances of their killing (Pacelle, 2003). The Internet made possible the existence of new types of animal abuse through the images and videos of animal cruelty available, insanely watched by some for pleasure. According to some research there is a direct relation between animal cruelty and human violence, and a coexistence exists of domestic violence and pet abuse with childhood animal cruelty prevalent among the violent offenders (Adams, 1992; Ascione, 1997).

Animal Cruelty Prevention

There is evidence in some assumptions that animal abuse could be accepted as a precursor of the appearance of human-directed violence, as well as as an indicator of family crisis. Left as if unnoticed, untreated, and unpunished, animal cruelty can develop further and escalate. Fortunately, nowadays there are millions compassionate people, united in a range of local, regional, national, and global animal rights protection organizations and networks.

Image Source:

Led by religious concerns the first appeals for respectful attitudes toward animal well-being are believed to have started in the ancient Indus Valley Civilization (Bronze Age, 3300–1300 BC). Some of the earliest known legislation acts on assessing animal welfare include the Ireland Parliament (Thomas Wentworth) “An Act against Plowing by the Tayle, and pulling the Wooll off living Sheep”, 1635, and the Massachusetts Colony (Nathaniel Ward) “Off the Bruite Creatures” (the “Massachusetts Body of Liberties”), 1641. In 1822, the British MP Richard Martin proposed the “Cruel Treatment of Cattle Act 1822″. He was later among the founders of the world’s first animal welfare organization, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or SPCA, in 1824 (RSPCA since 1840). The adoption of “Cruelty to Animals Act 1835″, and “Protection of Animals Act 1911″ followed.In the US the national law to protect animals was adopted officially (“Animal Welfare Act of 1966″), being the continuation of the anti-cruelty laws passed in different states (1828 – 1898). The ASPCA’s charter was signed on April 10th,1866, giving birth to the first enforceable anti-cruelty law. Since the late 20th century significant progress in animal welfare has taken place (Phillips, 2009). Over a century later, a large network of SPCA’s and Humane Societies branches exist across the USA tirelessly preventing and combating animal cruelty. In Canada the most popular and powerful animal cruelty prevention organizations are the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies and the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Cruelty prevention - SPCA projects
Image Source:

There is an initiative by several organizations to achieve a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare (UDAW) at the United Nations, coordinated by the World Society for the Protection of Animals, including Compassion in World Farming, the RSPCA, and the Humane Society International (the international branch of HSUS). A legal action can be taken after witnessing animal cruelty and neglect, and reporting it to organizations with cruelty investigation authority. Animal welfare organizations have been constantly promoting cross-reporting among agencies that handle abuse cases. Some television education or documentary programs (e.g. Animal Planet, part of the Discovery Network) have contributed substantially to the increased awareness about animal cruelty issues, and have showcased the work of animal investigators.

ASPCA highlights some common signs helping to recognize animal cruelty, such as wounds on the body, patches of missing hair, extremely thin, starving animals with ribs or backbone protruding. Other alarming marks are infected eyes left untreated, limping, lack of a shelter for outdoor animals left outside in extreme weather conditions, flea or tick infestations left untreated. Abnormal behavior to animals is also indicated by cramming animals into tiny cages in overcrowded conditions, abandonment. Illegal trapping of wild animals or animals left for extended periods in traps, or animals kept in dirty conditions (forced to stand in their own urine and excrement), are all considered cruelty. Organizations, such as Certified Humane have set guidelines and conduct inspections of businesses that raise, handle and slaughter animals for food, making sure the ways in which animals are not inhuman.


List of Cruelty Prevention Organizations


Animal Poison Control

Pet and animal owners should take special care to keep any potentially harmful substances and subjects out of the animal`s reach. Some of them could be extremely dangerous, even life-threatening. Compiled data of surveys by the Pet Poison Helpline, and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC, in Urbana, Illinois), indicates that each year there are hundreds of thousands cases of animal and pets poisoning, or dangerous exposure to poisonous substances. Some of the most common are the prescription human medications -cardiac (calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers); antidepressants and pain medications (opioids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen, etc.); cold and allergy medications (pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine, etc.).

Over-the-counter medications (vitamins,minerals; herbal and nutraceutical products) can also cause undesirable consequences when ingested. Most of the insecticides used in the yard, home, or on animals are deadly poisons, and should be under strict control. That is why the instructions on the label must be always read before using any insecticide. Numerous lawn, garden, and household productscould be toxic to animals, especially the cleaning products – some of them corrosive, others causing obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract. Human foods are often appealing to pets. For example, dogs could be poisoned by the ingestion of onions or garlic, grapes/raisins and Xylitol (a sugar substitute).

Chocolate can cause symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, high heart rate and seizures. When ingested in high doses veterinary products and medications are another source of poisoning animal risk. Rodenticides, under the form of baits to kill mice and rats, could be particularly dangerous, causing internal bleeding, kidney failure or seizures.

Toxic Plants for Animals

When eaten up a lot of plants, either wild/cultivated, outdoor/indoor, garden/lawn, or leaf/flowering species can also be highly poisonous to animals. There is abundant evidence that, for example, ingestions of very small amounts of Liliescan cause kidney damage and failure and death in cats. The insoluble oxalate plants (e.g., Dieffenbachia, Philodendron, etc.) should also be kept under control. Ingestion of marijuana can result in disorders of the central nervous system functions, incoordination, as well as vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, in some cases – seizures and coma.

Sago Palm is considered to be highly toxic,especially the seeds/“nuts” -the ingestion of just one or two of them can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizures and liver failure. Some plants, representatives of the Rhododenron spp. (Azalea / Rhododendron), as well as the bulbs of tulip and narcissus are highly toxicto animals and can cause gastrointestinal irritation, drooling, loss of appetite, problemswith the central nervous system, convulsions and heart abnormalities. The eventual result of the most serious poisoning cases could be coma and death from cardiovascular collapse.

There are a large number of plants that are considered to be toxic – Oleander, Ricinus communis, Cyclamenspecies, Yew, Amaryllis species, Autumn Crocus, Chrysanthemum, Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum), Pothos (both Scindapsus and Epipremnum), Scheffleraand Brassaia actinophylla, English Ivy, etc. These plants contain toxic substances, such as: cardiac glycosides, ricin, cyclamine, contains taxine, pyrethrins, triterpenoid saponins, calcium oxalate crystals, etc., and can cause severe poisoning symptoms – abnormal heart function, hypothermia, abdominal pain, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, weakness and loss of appetite. Among many, the severe cases of poisoning can result in dehydration, muscle twitching, tremors, altered cardiac rhythm and rate, seizures, trembling, incoordination, and difficulty breathing, coma and even death.

The Animal Poison Control Center (ASPCA) has recently reported signs as vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, oliguria, as well as cases of acute renal failure, within 24 hours after acute exposure associated with the ingestion of grapes (Vitisspp.) and raisins by dogs. There are some other potentially hazardous after ingestion plants, such as – onion (Allium cepa)and garlic (Allium sativum), the avocado (Persea americana), and the green fruit and flowers of tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum), which can cause clinical problems in pets (dogs and cats mainly).

List of Toxic Plants for Pets


ACE-inhibitors Medications

Acetaminophen Medications

Acids Household Items

African Evergreen Plants

African Wonder Tree Plants

Alcohol Foods

Alkalis Household Items

Alocasia Plants

Aloe Vera Plants

Amaryllis Plants

Ambien Medications

American Bittersweet Plants

Amitraz Insecticides

Amphetamines Medications

Andromeda Japonica Plants

Angel’s Trumpet Plants

Anthurium Plants

Antibiotics Topical Medications

Antidepressants Medications

Antifreeze Garage Items

Antihistamines Medications

Apple Leaf Croton Plants

Apricot Foods

Arrowhead Vine Plants

Asparagus Fern Plants

Aspirin Medications

Asthma Inhaler Medications

Australian Nut Foods

Autumn Crocus Plants

Avocado Foods

Azalea Plants


Baby’s Breath Plants

Baclofen Medications

Baneberry Plants

Batteries Household Items

Bear Grass Plants

Beech Trees Plants

Belladonna Plants

Benzodiazepines Medications

Beta-blockers Medications

Bird of Paradise Plants

Black Locust Plants

Black Widow Spider Envenomations

Bleeding Hearts Plants

Bloodroot Plants

Blue-green Algae (Cyanobacteria) Plants

Bluebonnet Plants

Bone Meal & Blood Meal Fertilizers

Boxwood Tree Plants

Branching Ivy Plants

Bread Dough Foods

Bromethalin Garage Items

Brown Recluse Spider Envenomations

Buckeye Plants

Buddhist Pine Plants

Burning Bush Plants

Buttercup Plants


Caffeine Foods

Caladium Plants

Calcipotriene Medications

Calcium Channel Blockers Medications

Calcium Supplements Medications

Calla Lily Plants

Camphor Topical Medications

Candelabra Cactus Plants

Carbamates Garage Items

Carbon Monoxide Toxic Gases

Cardiac Glycosides Plants

Carprofen Medications

Castor Bean Plants

Charming Dieffenbachia Plants

Cherry Foods

Chinaberry Tree Plants

Chinese Evergreen Plants

Chives Plants

Chocolate Foods

Chokecherry Plants

Cholecalciferol Garage Items

Christmas Rose Plants

Chrysanthemum Plants

Cineria Plants

Clematis Plants

Cocaine Illicit Drugs

Coins Metals

Coral Snake Envenomations

Cordatum Plants

Corn Plant Plants

Cornflower Plants

Corticosteroids Topical Medications

Corydalis Plants

Cough Medicine Medications

Cowbane Plants

Crocus Plants

Croton Plants

Crown of Thorns Plants

Currants Foods

Cyclamen Plants


Daffodils Plants

Daphne Plants

Day Lily Plants

Decongestants Medications

Delphinium Plants

Deramaxx Medications

Detergents Household Items

Devil’s Ivy Plants

Dieffenbachia Plants

Diuretic Medications

Dogbane Plants

Dracaena Plants

Dragon Tree Plants

Dumbcane Plants


Easter Lily Plants

Effexor Medications

Elaine Plants

Elderberry Plants

Elephant Ear Plants

Emerald Feather Plants

English Ivy Plants

Ephedra Herbals

EtoGesic Medications

Eucalyptus Plants

Euonymus Plants


Ferns Plants

Fertilizers Fertilizers

Ficus Plants

Fiddle-Leaf Philodendron Plants

Firestarter Logs Household Items

Fireworks Household Items

Firocoxib Medications

Flamingo Plant Plants

Flax Plants

Flea and Tick Medications Medications

Flea Collar Medications

Fluoride Household Items

Four O’Clock Plants

Foxglove Plants


Garlic Foods

Gasoline Garage Items

Geranium Plants

Giant Dumbcane Plants

Glacier Ivy Plants

Gladiolas Plants

Glory Chain Plants

Glory Lily Plants

Glow Jewelry Household Items

Gold Dieffenbachia Plants

Gold Dust Dracaena Plants

Golden Chain Tree Plants

Golden Pothos Plants

Gopher Purge Plants

Gorilla Glue Household Items

Grapes Foods


Hahn’s Self Branching English Ivy Plants

Hand Sanitizer (Ethanol) Household Items

Hand Warmers Metals

Heartleaf Philodendron Plants

Heavenly Bamboo Plants

Hellebore Plants

Hemlock Plants

Herbicides Garden Items

Holly Plants

Hops Foods

Hornets Envenomations

Horse Beans Plants

Horse Chestnut Plants

Horsehead Philodendron Plants

Hurricane Plant Plants

Hydrangea Plants

Hydrocarbons Garage Items


Ibuprofen Medications

Imidazoline Medications

Iris Plants

Iron Metals

Isoniazid Medications

Ivermectin Medications


Jack-in-the-Pulpit Plants

Japanese Show Lily Plants

Java Beans Plants

Jerusalem Cherry Plants

Jessamine Plants

Jimson Weed Plants

Jonquil Plants

Jungle Trumpet Plants


Kaffir lily Plants

Kalanchoe Plants

Kerosene Garage Items


Lace Fern Plants

Lacy Tree Plants

Lantana Plants

Larkspur Plants

Lead Metals

Leeks Plants

Lilies Plants

Lily of the Valley Plants

Liquid Potpourri Household Items

Locoweed Plants

Long-acting Anticoagulants Garage Items

Lunesta Medications

Lupine Plants


Macadamia Nuts Foods

Madagascar Dragon Tree Plants

Marble Queen Plants

Marigold Plants

Marijuana Illicit Drugs

Matches Household Items

Mayapple Plants

Meloxicam Medications

Metaldehyde Insecticides

Methionine Medications

Methylphenidate Medications

Mexican Breadfruit Plants

Milkweed Plants

Miniature Croton Plants

Mistletoe Plants

Mock Orange Plants

Moldy Food (Mycotoxins) Foods

Monkshood Plants

Morning Glory Plants

Mothballs Household Items

Mother-in-Law’s Tongue Plants

Mountain Laurel Plants

Mouse and Rat Poison Garage Items

Moxidectin Medications

Mushrooms Foods


Naproxen Medications

Narcissus Plants

Needlepoint Ivy Plants

Nicotine Medications

Nightshade Plants

NSAIDs Medications


Oleander Plants

Onions Foods

Opioids & Opiates Medications

Organophosphates Insecticides

Oriental Lily Plants

Oxalates (Insoluble) Plants

Oxalates (Soluable) Plants


Paintballs Household Items

Paraquat Garden Items

Peace Lily Plants

Peach Pits Foods

Pencil Cactus Plants

Pennyroyal Oil Herbals

Peony Plants

Periwinkle Plants

Pesticides Garage Items

Petroleum Distillates Garage Items

Phenylpropanolamine Medications

Philodendron Plants

Phosphides Garage Items

Pimobendan Medications

Pine Oil Household Items

Play Dough (Homemade) Foods

Plumosa Fern Plants

Poinciana Plants

Poinsettia Plants

Poison Hemlock Plants

Poison Ivy Plants

Poison Oak Plants

Pokeweed Plants

Poppy Plants

Potato (Green) Foods

Precatory Bean Plants

Primrose Plants

Privet Plants

Propylene Glycol Garage Items

Pyrethrins & Pyrethroids Insecticides


Queensland Nut Plants


Raisins Foods

Rattlesnake Envenomations

Red Lily Plants

Red-Marginated Dracaena Plants

Rhododendrons Plants

Rhubarb Plants

Ribbon Plant Plants

Rubber Tree Plant Plants

Rubrum Lily Plants


Saddle Leaf Philodendron Plants

Sago Palm Plants

Salt Foods

Schefflera Plants

Scorpions Envenomations

Scotch Broom Plants

Shamrock Plants

Skunk Cabbage Plants

Sleep Aids Medications

Smoke Inhalation Toxic Gases

Snowdrops Plants

Spider Lily Plants

Spiders Envenomations

Spotted Dumbcane Plants

Star Fruit Foods

Star of Bethlehem Plants

Stargazer Lily Plants

Stinging Nettle Plants

String of Pearls Plants

Striped Dracaena Plants

Strychnine Garage Items

Super Glue Household Items

Sweet Pea Plants


Taro Vine Plants

Tea Tree Oil Herbals

Thyroid Medications Medications

Tick Collar Medications

Tiger Lily Plants

Tinsel Household Items

Toads Envenomations

Tobacco Plants

Tomato Plants

Tree Philodendron Plants

Tropic Snow Dumbcane Plants

Tulips & Hyacinths Plants

Tung Tree Plants


Virginia Creeper Plants

Vitamins Medications


Warneckei Dracaena Plants

Water Hemlock Plants

Weeping Fig Plants

Windshield Wiper Fluid Garage Items

Wisteria Plants

Wood Lily Plants


Xylitol Foods


Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow Plants

Yew Plants

Yucca Plants



Poisoned Pet – How to Safeguard and What to do When Your Pet is Poisoned

Pet owners must be always prepared to react in cases of poisoning, as well as in other kinds of emergencies. If the pet is suspected to have ingested any poisonous or questionable substance, help must be immediately sought by a veterinarian. In such cases, the accurate and timely identification of the substance in question, is extremely important.

There are valuable instructions by the Animal Poison Control Center(ASPCA, 2014) concerning emergency pet preparedness. They advise that having the container, package, or label in hand can save valuable time and may save the life of the pet. Any material involved should be safely collected and be at hand,which could be of great benefit to the vet in determining the type of poison or poisons involved. If you need to take your pet to a local veterinarian, be sure to take the product’s container with you. The following information should be readily available and submitted:

  • The species, breed, age, sex, weight and number of animals involved.
  • The animal’s symptoms.
  • Information regarding the exposure, including the agent (if known), the amount of the agent involved and the time elapsed since the time of exposure.

If the animal is having seizures, losing consciousness, is unconscious or is having difficulty breathing, you should telephone ahead and bring your pet immediately to your veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic. You must always have at hand an emergency first-aid kit for your pet containing:

  • A fresh bottle of hydrogen peroxide, 3 percent USP (to induce vomiting)
  • A turkey baster, bulb syringe or large medicine syringe (to administer peroxide)
  • Saline eye solution
  • Artificial tear gel (to lubricate eyes after flushing)
  • Mild grease-cutting dish washing liquid (for bathing an animal after skin contamination)
  • Forceps (to remove stingers)
  • A muzzle (to protect against fear- or excitement-induced biting)
  • A can of your pet’s favorite wet food
  • A pet carrier (ASPCA, 2014).

Disaster / Emergency Pet Preparedness

Pets are considered to have played a role in Katrina’s horror stories.What happened during the hurricane has been a bitter lesson for officials and organizations. They have ever since tried to ensure a degree of disaster preparedness in order to avoid a repeat, and to make it more practical for people to leave,if an evacuation is required, than to stay because of their pets. Certainly nobody wants it to happen, but the common sense and life experience demand that there is an action plan, including the care of the beloved animals, if a natural disaster strikes. There is evidence that leaving pets out of an evacuation plan can put not only pets, but also their owners, and even rescue workers in danger. Pets left behind during a disaster are at a high risk to be injured, lost, or killed. Pet owners have to draw a disaster action plan, including the care for their animals, and collect information on the type of shelters and assistance available in the area. This way their favorites could be accommodated and kept safe until the situation has improved.

dog_1By making a plan and preparing a disaster kit, the lives and health of not only your pet, but also yourself, your family, and others, are protected. First of all, familiarize yourself with the types of disasters that could take place in the area you reside, considering your options for pet care provision. Your pet should wear collars and tags with actual contact information, and identification. The plan has to include obligatory micro-chippingof your pet to ensure that you can find it easier if temporarily separated from each other. The microchip must be registered and your contact information regularly maintained up to date with the microchip company. If possible, provide a separate pet carrier for each of your pets,with its name, your name and contact information written on each carrier. It is recommended to familiarize your pet with its transport means before a disaster has happened. Some practice catching and transporting your pet in a vehicle similar to one you would be evacuated in, could be very useful. A leash or a carrier must always be located nearby the exit. Proper equipment for pets in the car (carriers, harnesses, pet seat belts) would also be advisable. In case you do not possess a car, it is a good idea to make arrangements with neighbors, family and friends. Your local authorities would also have more information on the transportation options available during a disaster. You may also need to decide where you and your pet are going to stay. Depending on the severity of a disaster, there could be two options – sheltering in place (at home), or sheltering away from home during an evacuation. If you choose to use a part of your home as a shelter, it is necessary to make the adjustments needed for a pet-friendly environment. Select a safe, interior room, if possible – without no windows. Any chemicals, plants, or dangerous subjects are to be removed. It is preferable to have a confined, closed-off small area,in which the frightened pets could get stuck in. If you have to implement sheltering during an evacuation, it is better to clarify the options with the local emergency management office, veterinary clinics, and local animal shelters for accommodation for you and your pet, if there is a need to be separated from you. Contact family, friends, or pet-friendly hotel outside the evacuation area, and along evacuation routes.

Some of the instructions on the necessary supplies, has been provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and could be useful for the preparation of a Pet Disaster Kit to ensure a smooth evacuation:

  • Food (in airtight, waterproof containers or cans) and water for at least 2 weeks for each pet; Food and water bowls and a manual can opener; For cats: litter box and litter; For dogs: plastic bags for poop;
  • Clean-up items for bathroom accidents (paper towels, plastic trash bags, bleach-containing cleaning agent);
  • Medications for at least 2 weeks, along with any treats used to give the medications and pharmacy contact for refills;
  • Medical records – Rabies vaccination certificate; Current vaccination record. If your pet has a microchip, a record of the microchip number; Prescription for medication(s). For cats, most recent FeLV/FIV test result or vaccination date; Summary of pertinent medical history;
  • A carrier or cage that is large enough for your pet to stand comfortably and turn around; Towels or blankets; Pet toys and bed (familiar items to help the pet[s] feel more comfortable).
  • A handout containing identification information (in the event you get separated from your pet); Current photo of pet and Microchip number; Pet’s descriptive features (age, sex, neutered/non-neutered status, color(s), and approximate weight)
  • Owner contact information (cell phone, work phone, home phone), Contact information of a close relative or friend;

A handout with boarding instructions, such as feeding schedule, medications, and any known allergies and behavior problems; Documents, medications, and food should be stored in waterproof containers (CDC, 2014).

Hurricane Katrina and Pets / Animals

KatrinaImage Source:

Storms are not unusual in the area of the state of Louisiana. According to data by the Hydro-meteorological Prediction Center (HPC), tropical cyclone makes landfall along the coastline two times every three years, and a hurricane makes landfall about once every 2.8 years. The National Hurricane Center forecast the number and category of Atlantic tropical storms during the season, providing information that Katrina was Category 3 when it struck on August 29, 2005. However, no one anticipated the severity and duration of the hurricane, the floods and devastation, the toxic sludge made of human waste and harmful chemicals covering everything. Pet owners expected mistakenly to come back a few days later, but, unfortunately, days turned into weeks.Left alone, the animals had to struggle to survive without supplies or care, some dogs remained in the prison of terrible hurricane, chained in backyards, and eventually left to drown helplessly.

Hurricane KatrinaImage Source: GRIID

Hurricane Katrina is considered the largest animal rescue operation in history. According to some estimates, over 250,000 pets were left stranded by the storm’s destruction.There is no way to estimate exactly how many animals were left behind when Hurricane Katrina struck, forcing the evacuation of New Orleans. According to the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals,around 70,000 pets remained only in the city during the storm.Of those, about 15,000 have been rescued, but only 20% of the rescued animals were reunited with their owners. Rescue teams from a number of local, federal, national, and global organizations, such as the SPCA, Last Chance for Animals (LCA), and Best Friends Animal Society, to mention a few, joined efforts in aid of these abandoned and exiled animals in the flooded and devastated homes in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The teams ventured into the polluted flood waters and broke into abandoned homes to rescue hundreds frightened, dehydrated, and starving pets. Medical treatment and care was urgently provided to rescued animals at the shelters and sanctuaries. Rescue workers and volunteers continually cleaned out cages and fed animals around the clock. Some reports highlight as

one of the biggest issues to emergency authorities during the disaster, the reluctance of the people to leave New Orleans, and stayed there,unwilling to leave their pets behind.A survey indicates that 44% of those who decided to stayin the storm were led by the lack of evacuation possibilities for their pets.


Rescue and Shelters of Animals and Pets

An animal rescue group (animal rescue organization) adopts pets, taking the abandoned, abused, or stray pets in an attempt to ensure suitable homes for them. Many of these rescue organizations are created and run by volunteers, taking the animals into their homes and care for them, waiting for a proper permanent home to be found. There are various rescue groups depending on pet types, but they are most common for dogs and cats. Rescue groups, specialized in specific breeds or groups of breeds also exist (Chipley, 2000). Some organization for animal rescue groups and breed clubs (, American Kennel Club, etc.) maintain databases various kinds of shelters and adoption agencies across the USA, Canada and Mexico(Sweeney, 2010). The maintains a list of contacts, primarily within, with information on breed rescue groups for purebred dogs in the United States.

Animal Shelter
Image Source: Arizona Public Media

An animal shelter is a facility that serves as a home for the homeless, lost, or abandoned animals; predominantly dogs and cats. In the past, they were called dog pounds. Shelters provide for the basic animal needs until reclaimed by its owner, placed in a new home, or with another organization for adoption, or euthanized. Public animal shelters euthanize animals, not adopted within a certain period of time. Some modern shelters and shelter-like volunteer organizations, controlling the pet population, are devoted to promoting pet adoption and more human care methods. Usually at the open-admission shelter facilities animals receive professional homelike care, sick and injured animals receive treatment, and the animals’ living quarters are kept clean and dry. However, there are also some shelters, which are just shacks, where animals are neglected, left to die from diseases, or fights with other animals. There exists a type of shelters, called “no-kill” or “turn-away” – they do not euthanize animals,use waiting lists.The turn some of them away, deeming them unadoptable.

They have been dealing with the increased cat overpopulation with trap-neuter-release programs, decreasing cat populations, and therefore – the burden on shelters. In the United States, many government-run animal shelters offer conditions that are far from perfect, with most of the incoming animals euthanized. The limited funding of such shelters to provide for the million new cats and dogs each year, hardly propose another choice but to euthanize them(Lewis, 2009;Galaxy,2012). Several organizations in Canada, such as the Humane Society of Canada (HSC) support animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centers in their commitment to protect animals, perform mount rescue operations, expose cruelty, contribute to pass animal protection laws.

In the UK, animal shelters and hospitals are run by charitable organizations, and are known as rescue or rehoming centers (the RSPCA, Cats Protection, and the Dogs Trust, etc.). Cats Protection, for example, is a charity, operating through volunteer-run branches and adoption centers (formerly shelters). The volunteer-run branches are people having a room or space in a garden, so that instead of visiting a dedicated adoption center, those wishing to adopt a cat visits it in another person’s home. On the other hand, Dogs Trust rehome most dogs which it cares for and it runs rehoming centers across the UK and Ireland, as well as two large mobile rehoming units (Dogmobiles) – large vehicles with air conditioning, carrying a small number of dogs from nearby rehoming centres, seeking new homes.

In the USA, three main pet rescue organization types exist:

  • A municipal shelter – a local government facility housing stray and abandoned animals, as well as animals that cannot be taken care of;
  • A no-kill shelter – a private organization, in which unhealthy, pet-worthy animals could be euthanized;
  • Not-for-profit rescue organizations, usually a network of volunteer foster homes (Biniok, 2009).

It is a common practice for the animal shelters to cooperate with rescue groups, due to the difficulty shelters have in placing healthy and pet-worthy animals. When shelters run out of room, rescue groups can help by finding volunteers who would accept animals in their homes temporarily. The main difference between shelters and rescue groups are that shelters are usually run and funded by local governments (Bial,2011), while rescue groups are operating through volunteers, and are funded by donations. Some shelters place animals in foster homes, others are housed on-site in kennels. Some rescue groups have facilities and others do not.

List of Shelter Directories

Pet Care – Dietary, Health, Housing & General Care

In order to be a responsible pet owner, you have to understand your its needs, providing the pet with care, love, and attention. You should educate yourself and learn about the pet’s specific needs – dietary, health, housing and general care. An appropriate housing, adequate, balanced diet must be provided, and constant access to clean, cool drinking water. Regularly exercise your pet according to its needs. When training your pet,be kind and patient. Ensure that while unsupervised, your pet is safely and securely confined to your property. A sufficient companionship,and an environment stimulating socialization with other animals and people (particularly at a young age), will minimize boredom, and provide your pet with necessary skills. To keep it healthy, make sure your pet lives in a clean environment, and take it to a vet for regular checkups, as well as when health problems arise. This way will also provide all necessary vaccinations. It is necessary to microchip your pet and register it with your local council, so that you have better chances of finding it when lost. You might find it important to de-sex your pet to prevent unwanted offspring and some diseases and unwanted behavior.Groom your pet regularly, if needed. You should also respect the rights of non pet owners through keeping your pet under control while in public and by disposing of any droppings made in public areas. To keep your dog safe you should not let your in an open truck bed, and keep your pet’s head and paws inside the car. Don’t let your cat play with string, and supervise its play with items it can choke on. Keep it indoors, allowing it to live a longer and healthier life. Outdoor cats face dozens of dangers – cars, other cats fighting for love or territory, and exposure to fleas, worms, spoiled food or household poisons.

Dog Care

Dog care

Image Source: NCSPCA

There are some specifics in dog care, depending on their age, lifestyle, breed, and other factors. For example, puppies 8 to 12 weeks old need four meals a day, while those three to six months old require three meals a day. The puppies six months to one year old will best benefit from two meals a day. After your dog has reached his first birthday, a meal per day could be enough.For some dogs, it might be advisable to have two smaller meals a day. High quality dry food provides a balanced diet for adult dogs and may be mixed with water, broth or canned food. Your dog may enjoy human food (cottage cheese, cooked egg), but these additions should not count more than 10% of his daily intake. The “people food” can result in vitamin and mineral imbalances, bone and teeth problems and may lead to picky eating habits and obesity. Clean, fresh water must be available at all times. To keep healthy and fit, dogs need exercise, which can also contribute to avoiding boredom. The regular games with your dog will satisfy many of its urges to dig, herd, chew, retrieve and chase. By frequent brushing your dog you can keep it clean.You should check for fleas and ticks every day during warm seasons. It is highly advisable that your dog see the veterinarian for a full check-up, shots, vaccinations (when required), and a heart worm blood test every year, and immediately in cases of sickness or injury.Never attempt to give your dog medication which has not been prescribed.

You should follow your community’s licensing regulations for licensing and identification of the dog. The license attached to your dog’s collar, together an ID tag and implanted microchip, can secure your dog’s return ifit becomes lost. It is important that you start teaching your puppy manners as soon as possible.Little bits of food could play the role of a lure and reward. It is generally considered that female dogs should be spayed, and males neutered by six months of age. This could eliminate the risk of an infected uterus, reduce the danger of breast cancer, a common fatal disease of older female dogs. Neutering males is reported to prevent testicular and prostate diseases, hernias and aggression. It is considered that most dogs do not require bathing more than a few times a year. Before bathing, it is recommendable to comb or cut out all mats from the coat, and afterwards carefully rinse all soap out of the coat. The younger and smaller dogs could sleep in beds made of wooden boxes. To make it more comfortable, place a clean blanket or pillow inside the bed. If your dog is intended to spend a lot of time outdoors, make sure it has access to shade and plenty of water in hot summer weather, and a warm, dry, covered shelter when it is cold outside.



This entry was posted in: Blog.

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and its Aftermath

Prologue to The The Deepwater Horizon Spill

20 April 2010 began as a day of celebration for The Deepwater Horizon, a 9-year-old offshore semi-submersible drilling rig engaged in drilling a deep exploratory well 18,360 feet (5,600 m) below sea level, in approximately 5,000 feet (1,500 m) of water in the Gulf of Mexico. Located in the Macondo oil prospect in the Mississippi Canyon, a valley in the continental shelf, it was one of the 3,858 oil and gas platforms that dotted the coastline of the five States of the USA bordering the Gulf as on 20 April, 2010 (Figs. 1 & 2). Built by Hyundai Heavy Industries of South Korea, and owned and operated by the Swiss-based offshore-oil-drilling company Transocean, the rig was leased by oil company BP (ex British Petroleum) from March 2008 to September 2013. Visiting senior BP officials had just congratulated them on seven years of accident free operations and a celebration was planned for later that day.

At around 21:45 CDT that night (02:45 UTC, 21 April 2010), a surge of natural gas blasted its way up to the platform, where it ignited, killing 11 and injuring 17 of the 126 crew members onboard. All survivors were rescued by helicopters and boats.

The burning rig capsized and sank on the morning of April 22, bursting the pipeline and allowing oil to discharge into the Gulf. The volume of oil exiting the damaged well—originally underplayed by BP as about 1,000 barrels per day—was thought by U.S. government officials to have touched more than 60,000 barrels per day. By the time the well was capped on 15 July and finally sealed on 19 September 2010, the total discharge was estimated by the concerned US govt. officials at 4.9 million barrels (206 million US gallons; 172 m UK gal; 780,000 m3), making it the worst accidental marine oil spill ever in history (Ramseur and Hagerty, 2013). The total extent of ecological, medical, social and marine damage has yet to be finalized, as is the mindboggling total financial loss that BP and its associates will ultimately bear.


Deposits of Crude oil

Crude oil is a complex, naturally occurring liquid mixture containing mostly hydrocarbons, which contains compounds of oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur as well. It is also termed fossil fuel, formed by natural anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms, the age of which is typically millions of years, at times exceeding 600 million years. There is a general conception that when it is found under solid ground, that ground will be part of a desert, as is mainly the case today, with most petroleum reserves found in the sands of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East countries.

What is not known is that only a small portion of this crude oil came about as a consequence of decomposing dead organisms buried under solid ground. Most of the crude oil actually migrated to underground locations from under the seas! 70 percent of the earth’s surface is covered by water and the living organisms therein far exceed those on and under solid ground. The undersea organisms comprise of ancient fossilized organic materials, such as zooplankton and algae. Vast quantities of these remains settled to sea or lake bottoms, mixing with sediments and being buried under anoxic conditions. As the number of layers increased with time, their density increased, causing a build up of intense heat and pressure in the lower regions. These conditions changed the organic matter into a waxy material known as ‘kerogen’. Petroleum is formed by the breaking down of large molecules of fats, oils and waxes that contribute to the formation of kerogen.

Because petroleum is a fluid, and also due to continuous geologic tectonic movements, it is able to migrate through the earth as it forms. This migration is slow, over millions of years. Hydrocarbons migrate because oil and gas are less dense than water, so they try to rise toward the Earth’s surface to get above groundwater. Natural gas, being less dense, floats above the oil. This buoyancy tends to drive both oil and gas upwards. Typically, a hydrocarbon system must have a good migration pathway, such as a set of permeable fractures, in order for large volumes of hydrocarbons to move. Oil companies pray for the absence of migration pathways, so that the oil and gaseous bodies become static pools.

Geological surveys look for large pools; extraction from small pools is not cost-effective, given the extremely high rates for leasing deepwater oil rigs (between US$ 426,000 – 714,000 per day) and other working costs. To remain static, the pool or reservoir must be trapped by a non-porous rock formation. The reservoir needs to have a cover of impervious rock that will prevent the passage of hydrocarbon fluids to the surface. This impervious rock covering the reservoir is called a cap rock.

A hot and wet climate is conducive for the growth of large amounts of organisms. If this growth takes place in a shallow sea, the drying out of the environment and evaporation of the sea water leaves behind large deposits of salt. Salt is impervious to hydrocarbon fluids and makes an excellent cap rock. If migration is prevented by a geological folding of subsurface rocks, very large reservoirs are formed. These were precisely the conditions that prevailed for eons in the Middle East, resulting in the enormous deposits of oil found in that region of the world. Again, these are precisely the conditions that prevail in most tropical and subtropical continental shelves. The atmospheric and subsea conditions in the Gulf of Mexico are ideal for oil pools from which the ‘black gold’ can be extracted gainfully. Fig. 2 infra provides ample proof.

How Does an Oil Rig Work?

The extraction of oil, particularly in the case of deep offshore drilling, is a complex process and outside the scope of this article. Only the two major components of any drilling rig, the Drill String and the Blow Out Preventer, BOP, will be discussed, as they are germane to the issue. As will be shown later in this article, a hasty and wrongly assembled drill string compounded by BOP failure was the major cause leading to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The Drill StringA drill string consists of the drill pipe, the bottomhole assembly and any other tools used to provide the torque that rotates the drill bit at the bottom of the wellbore. It is enclosed in one or more hollow casings; it is also hollow itself so that drilling fluid can be pumped down through it and circulated back up the annulus (the void between the drill string pipe and the casing/casings). The drilling fluid is a slurry, known as ‘mud’, forced downwards by mud pumps to provide most of the downward pressure required to balance the pressure of the outflow of gas and oil once the drill bit pierces the oil well. In the Deepwater Horizon case, the drill string casing was seven inches in diameter and that of the enclosing (protective) casing 97/8 inches. (See Fig.4 on page 7)

Blow Out PreventerBOPs are safety devices used to prevent uncontrolled flow of liquids and gases during drilling operations. They are large, high-pressure valves that are capable of being remotely controlled, and, in turn, can control pressure levels in the drill string. When the driller closes the valve, a pressure-tight seal is formed at the top of the well, preventing the fluids from escaping. It is not really possible to estimate the pressure inside a well, nor can the exact moment of gas and oil release be predicted while drilling. The sudden release of fluids at very high pressures can lead to what is called a ‘kickback’, which, in turn, can lead to a catastrophe termed a ‘blowout’, of which there are numerous instances. The BOP is usually installed redundantly in stacks and used to seal, control and monitor oil and gas wells. It has to be a failsafe device, to ensure the safety of the members of the crew as also the drilling rig, and for that matter, the well bore itself, which is why its roles are clearly defined. BOPs are of two types, Ram and Annular. Most BOPs in use combine a stack of differently shaped ram blocks topped by an annular version, totaling up to 3-400 tons. Based on their design, they can carry out numerous role-specific tasks, including shearing the drill string in its entirety to prevent a blowout.

Primary Role:

- Confine well fluid to the wellbore.
- Provide means to add fluid to the wellbore.
- Allow controlled volumes of fluid to be withdrawn from the wellbore.

Additional Functions:

- Regulate and monitor wellbore pressure.
- Shut in the well (i.e., seal the annulus between drillpipe and casing).
- ‘Kill’ the well (prevent the flow of raw fluid, or influx, from the reservoir into the wellbore).
- Seal the wellhead (close off the wellbore).
- Sever the casing or drill pipe (in case of emergencies)

Apathy and Complacence on the Part of BP and the US Government?

The mineral rights to drill for oil at Macondo well, located in the United States sector of the Gulf of Mexico about 41 miles (66 km) off the Louisiana coast (Fig. 1), were purchased by BP from the Minerals Management Service’s (MMS) in March 2008. BP was the operator and principal developer of the  Macondo Prospect with a 65 percent share, while 25 percent was owned by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, and ten percent by MOEX Offshore 2007, a unit of Mitsui.  In the documents submitted to the now defunct MMS, BP stated that they foresaw no specific hazards regarding drilling at the site, as it was only an exploratory operation and if some remotely possible mishap did occur, they were 41 miles (66 km) away from the mainland, which would give them enough time to react to the crisis. Their drilling platform was to be the Transocean Marianas semi-submersible rig. The US Dept. of the Interior exempted BP’s Gulf of Mexico drilling operation from a detailed environmental impact study after concluding that a massive oil spill was unlikely, the first mistake in the chain of events that would reach a head on 20 April 2010.

At the outset, BP had contracted with the American MNC Halliburton for the cement and mudding work on the rig. In November 2009, Hurricane Ida damaged Transocean Marianas to the extent that it had to be replaced. Three months later, the replacement drilling rig, Transocean Deepwater Horizon commenced operations on site- but more than 90 days had been lost. The Dept. of the Interior accepted this replacement without a murmur, not knowing that the MMS had not checked out the replacement rig and its safety mechanisms, an error of omission by the Govt and of commission by BP and Transocean.

All aspects considered, the delay in BP’s overall oil drilling program in the US had been scaled down to about 45 days. Since the task was only to complete its exploration by capping the well it had bored, the rig was to only plug the oil well and separate its riser piping from the wellhead to the rig before moving on to another exploration site. A separate rig would have come later to access the sealed wellhead. The date given for completion was 08 March 2010 . In the oil drilling business, time is a lot of money and the Deepwater Horizon was costing them $500,000 a day.  Since this target was patently impossible to achieve, clandestine short cuts were reportedly being taken to accelerate the process, putting rig and workers’ safety at stake. To make things worse, their BOP was damaged in an accident in March, affecting its efficiency. It is not known whether the BOP was repaired.

Deepwater Horizon’s exploratory drilling had reportedly been troubled by unusually frequent and forceful kickbacks. Only weeks before the fatal explosion, so much gas forced its way up the well bore and onto the rig platform that an emergency freeze was placed on many activities aboard the rig in order to avoid triggering an explosion . Was this due to a malfunctioning BOP? BP, however, paid little heed to these warnings and carried on hard apace. Halliburton noticed these practices and warned BP that its use of cement “was against their best practices.” MMS was also informed and they issued a cautionary notice to BP . Moreover, the Macondo oil well was known as the ‘Well of Hell’.

A few days before the accident, BP drilled the final 1,200 feet of the wellbore 18,360 feet (5,600 m) below sea level, which needed casing. Halliburton went by the book and suggested the appropriate liner/tieback casing that would provide 4 redundant barriers to the outflow. BP ignored the advice and decided on a single liner with fewer barriers that would be faster to install and a great deal cheaper ($7 to $10 million). Amazingly, this unsafe shortcut was approved by MMS without any delay.

In yet another shortcut, BP informed Halliburton that they planned to use only 6 centralizers (cementing equipment) instead of the recommended 21. Halliburton’s advice to clean up the annulus before the cementing task was also ignored, in the main (see Fig.4). Halliburton then went on record, stating that using only 6 centralizers would probably lead to a failure of the cement job. Over the next two days, Deepwater Horizon completed its drilling and the well was being prepared to be cemented. The BOP was tested and reported to be functional; subsequent examination would prove otherwise. The BOP had definitely failed . The cost cutting go-ahead was yet another mistake in the deadly chain.

Halliburton sounded the alarm next day, stating that the well did have a severe gas flow problem. Despite their own findings, they completed cementing of the final production casing string, as desired by BP, yet another error. Early in the morning of the day of the accident, BP engineers reportedly argued over the removal of dense drilling mud from the well bore, replacing it with much lighter sea water . Such a step is taken only after a second cement plug hardens in the piping, a process that takes up to 12 hours and costs $128,000. Until this plug is fully installed, heavy mud is the first line of defense against kickbacks and blowouts . They were presented a fait accompli when BP canceled the US law-mandated cement bond log test. By canceling the cement test, BP paid only $10,000, but added to the list of shortcuts and errors.

Halliburton were using a new type of cement that bonded quickly, but emitted more heat than normal, which could thaw frozen methane gas in the rocks of the well, adding volume and pressure to a kickback if one did develop. Unfortunately for Deepwater Horizon, not only did the kickback develop, it also became a blowout at 2156 hrs. A geyser of seawater erupted onto the rig, shooting 240 feet into the air followed by the eruption of a slushy combination of gas, oil and concrete. All control systems had failed. The operator at the controls was unable to drive the blowout upwards through the gas exhaust column, allowing the highly flammable eruption onto the rig deck, where it ignited and exploded. The BOP failed to respond to frantic commands-how could it? It was unserviceable. 11 people were killed in the firestorm and 27 injured.

All drill bits need a coolant. For deep offshore drilling, the coolant consists of a synthetic-based fluid. These fluids can withstand great heat without breaking down, and the fluid fumes have a toxicity that is much less than an oil-based fluid. When drilling through rock or mud, the bored mud or rock is routed back via the annulus, which spouts a mud-colored exhaust. Hence the term ‘drilling mud’.

The blowout and oil spill on the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico was caused by a flawed well plan that did not include enough cement between the 7-inch drill string casing and its 9 7/8-inch protection casing. The equally important blowout preventer (BOP) failure was seen secondary to the preceding flawed well plan, even though it failed to function as a damage preventer/ limiter in a blowout after a drill string failure. While waiting for the cement to dry on April 20, the crew began displacing the drilling fluid (“mud”) in the wellbore and riser with sea water before setting a fully tested cement plug, a very hazardous step, as it may have allowed oil and gas to enter it. (See Fig.4b infra).

Schematic Diagrams: Deepwater Horizon Rig Showing Probable Fracture and Cement Block Failure

The Fallout 

Destruction of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig:

The oil rig caught fire at 2147 hrs on 20 April 2010, capsized and sank on the morning of April 22, rupturing the pipeline and allowing oil to discharge into the Gulf. Scientists were keen to take a closer look at this fire. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the world’s largest private, nonprofit ocean research and engineering organization led the way forward.

Sampling the Source” is a video that shows WHOI’s efforts to understand the scope and impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It describes successful efforts by WHOI scientists to obtain the only samples of oil and gas directly from the broken riser pipe and blow-out preventer and return them to the surface at pressure. Press the Ctrl tab on the keyboard and click the link for the video.

Where Did the Discharge Finally Go?

By the time the well was capped on July 15, 2010 (and finally sealed on 19 September 2010), approximately 4.9 million barrels of oil, (206 million US gallons; 172 m UK gal; 780,000 m3) plus another 2 × 1011 g of hydrocarbon gases had gushed out of the undersea Macondo reservoir and into the Gulf. According to government estimates, a mere 20% of that oil was recovered, either directly from the wellhead or by skimming the sea surface. Another 5% was burned, going up in the air, with some turning into particles that drifted to the seafloor. The vast majority of oil—75%—was neither burned nor recovered. It ended up in four places: dissolved in the water, evaporated into the air, stuck to the coastline, or settled on the seafloor . As for the gas, what was recovered with oil was burned, whereas the rest predominately dissolved in the water column, forming the so-called deep plume.

Tracking and predicting surface oil was a clear priority, even before the extent of the Macondo blowout was known. Within hours of the explosion, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) began providing at least daily guidance to individuals involved in all aspects of the response. The location and amount of oil on the surface of the water varied considerably from day to day. Satellite imagery and images and reports from fixed-wing and helicopter aircraft provided model starting conditions daily. Comparison of results from the ensemble of surface trajectory models allowed the evaluation of forecast uncertainty . Spill rate was calculated at 62,000 ± 10% barrels per day (bpd) at the beginning of the event and 53,000 ± 10% bpd on day 87 at well shut in. The video above tracks the oil slick from Day 1. Combined with the total flow rate and hydrocarbons remaining on the ocean surface, a consistent picture emerged about where the oil went. Only about one-half of the oil and none of the methane gas ever reached the ocean surface.

The Macondo reservoir lies about 4 km below the seafloor at an approximate pressure of 6,000 psi, and at a temperature of 130 °C. As the hydrocarbons moved up the well pipe to the seafloor, pressure and temperature decreased to 2,200 psi and 4 °C respectively, allowing the efflux to separate into oil and gas. (Atmospheric pressure is 14.7 psi). As the oil exited the well into the sea, various portions dissolved, aerosolized into droplets, mixed with water to form gas hydrates, or precipitated as waxes. The heavier compounds sank to the seafloor, but the lighter gas compounds moved up only another 1,500 feet because they were soluble in water and small oil droplets in the plume were not buoyant enough to rise further. The remaining thousands of hydrocarbon compounds that make up oil continued their rise to the surface, where they were skimmed, burned, naturally dispersed through wave action or chemically dispersed; what didn’t evaporate washed into marshes and onto beaches as mousse, better known as tar balls . The odd ball or two still turns up on the various beaches.

Every oil spill in history has carried with it serious damages, both in the short and long term. The Deepwater Horizon is no different. Now that technology is so advanced and ecological concerns so volubly propounded, the probable consequences of a major oil spill can be predicted fairly accurately:

    • Effects on microbial life forms, deep sea organisms, wildlife and the tourism industry.
    • Loss of jobs for those engaged in the seafood industry.
    • Damage to existing life forms, like small fish, shrimps and lobsters, tuna, dolphins and turtles, apart from plankton, algae and coral and other deep sea organisms.
    • Ecological damage, in terms of tinkering with a fragile habitat.
    • Side effects of remedial chemical oil dispersants.
    • Effects on Tourism and business.

Effect on Microbial Life Forms

Analysis of one of the samples collected by WHOI showed that the source Macondo material was 74% saturated hydrocarbons, 16% aromatic hydrocarbons, and 10% polar hydrocarbons (oxygen, nitrogen, and sulfur) . Gulf water contains native hydrocarbon-consuming microorganisms and it was felt that the 1km deep plume would provide these microorganisms a feast to eat, grow, and multiply and ultimately consume the leaked hydrocarbons. While the entire lot of leaked hydrocarbons was not consumed, there was a marked increase in the gulf microbial population, except for one variety called sea squirts that did not survive. One of the giant oil plumes that formed due to the oil spill has been degraded at a much more significant rate than first anticipated. The change is attributed to a previously undiscovered species believed to normally reside at the bottom of deep ocean waters, but catalyzed to multiply by the ocean’s pollution.

Deep-Sea Benthic Footprint of the Deepwater Horizon Blowout

As part of the response to the accident, a scientific team was deployed in fall 2010 to measure potential impacts on the two main deep sea soft-bottom benthic invertebrate  groups: macrofauna and meiofauna. Meiofauna consists of small, waterborne invertebrates that range in size from 0.042 to 0.300 millimeters. The study found that the tremendous biodiversity of meiofauna in the deep-sea area of the Gulf of Mexico studied had been reduced dramatically. Larger organisms, or macrofauna include barnacles, oysters, sponges and mud crabs, among others. The most severe relative reduction of faunal abundance and diversity extended to 3 km from the wellhead in all directions covering an area about 24 km2. This was the area where the gushing oil first fell and continued leaking till capped. Moderate impacts were observed up to 17 km towards the southwest and 8.5 km towards the northeast of the wellhead, covering an area 148 km2. Benthic effects were correlated to total petroleum hydrocarbon and distance to the wellhead. The conclusion was that benthic effects were more likely due to the oil spill, and not natural hydrocarbon seepage. Since the deep sea temperature was a uniform 4°C, it behaved like a refrigerator, preserving the oil that had sunk. Recovery rates in the deep sea were thus likely to be slow, of the order of decades or longer.

The scientists also found that the damaged marine life extended along a narrow corridor, about 23 miles long to the southwest of the wellhead, which was consistent with earlier studies that identified an underwater stream of oil and gas residue, an increase in organisms that eat oil, and measurements of low oxygen that are believed to correspond to the decomposition of those fast-living organisms as they died and sank to the bottom.

Effect on Gulf Seafood Industry

BP’s Deepwater Horizon Blowout saw a marked decline in seafood catches, seriously affecting the seafood industry and those employed in it . Crab catch dropped markedly and no baby crabs were seen. The crabs caught had holes in their shells, other seafood also had deformities. Stone crab harvest dropped off by 75 percent. The state of Louisiana oyster season opened on October 15, but fishermen found little life out there. Only 30 percent of the sea ground for harvesting oysters in the past remained productive. Shrimp was brought in with deformities, including tumors; others lacked eyes. These deformities were attributed to BP’s use of toxic dispersants to sink the spilled oil.

Dr. Ed Cake, a biological oceanographer and a marine biologist, believed it would take the Gulf decades to recover from the BP disaster, particularly for oysters. Oysters had not returned to the coast yet, after the 1979 Ixtoc 1 blowout in the Bay of Campeche, 31 years ago. Blue crab and shrimp catches had fallen in Mississippi and Alabama since the spill, and he also expressed worries about ongoing dolphin die-offs. But his primary concern was the slow recovery of the region’s oyster population. “Mississippi recently opened their season, and their oyster fishermen were restricted to 12 sacks of oysters a day. But they can’t even reach six, against the thirty sacks on a normal day for oysters, the previous limit. I’m looking at a 20-year hiatus,” said Cake.

The problems were not just with the crabs and shrimp. Grouper fishing had also down since the spill. Fish, including groupers were seen with tar balls in their stomachs from as far as the Florida Keys. Many fishermen in the area had given up and had left the fishing business, selling out cheap because they had to . Seafood from the Gulf had become the most tested in the world, adding insult to injury.

Dolphins Exposed to Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Had More Health Problems Than Others

To understand the effects of oil contamination on marine mammals such as dolphins and whales, researchers conducted health assessments on 32 dolphins in Barataria Bay, a site chosen because it was most affected during and after the spill from the Deepwater Horizon well .  The team compared those dolphins to 27 from Florida’s Sarasota Bay, where researchers have been conducting a decades-long study of dolphin health and which remained oil-free following the spill. Bottlenose dolphins are one of 29 species of whales and dolphins in the gulf. The Center for Biological Diversity estimates that the oil spill killed or harmed more than 6,000 sea turtles and 25,000 marine mammals, such as various species of dolphins. (Infant dolphins were found dead at six times the average rates three years later, in January and February 2013).

The dolphins were exposed to the oil in three ways: through direct contact with oil stuck to their skin; through ingestion, either directly from the water or from eating fish that had been contaminated and through inhaling aerosolized compounds derived from oil, the result of breathing air that came from directly above the water’s surface.

They found that bottlenose dolphins in Louisiana’s Barataria Bay were suffering from a host of maladies, including lung disease and adrenal problems. They were observed to be underweight and had low red blood cell counts, lung disease and pneumonia. They had unusually low levels of adrenal hormones, when matched with the Sarasota dolphins. Many had low blood sugar, and several had low red blood cell counts. Six of the Barataria Bay dolphins — but none of those from Sarasota Bay — blood tests revealed liver abnormalities. Ultrasound exams also allowed the team to diagnose lung disease and pneumonia in many of the Barataria Bay dolphins. In fact, these dolphins were five times as likely as the Sarasota Bay dolphins to suffer from moderate to severe lung disease. Surprisingly, the checkups given to the Barataria Bay dolphins revealed that they were losing their teeth prematurely.

Effect on Fisheries

At the 2014 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference on 27 January 2014 in Mobile, Alabama, Steve Murawski , with the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg said that incidences of direct moralities on fish populations other than oysters are probably pretty low, while explaining how oysters, which cannot move to escape the oil, were greatly affected by freshwater river diversions following the spill. Kenneth Able , from the Rutgers University Marine Field Station, said he and his colleagues’ studies of fish populations in Louisiana’s Caminada, Barataria and Terrebonne bays showed “no significant difference in species abundance and composition in oiled and unoiled sites.”He, however, conceded that while overall population size did not appear to have been affected by the spill in those Louisiana estuaries, other scientists’ research had shown some negative impacts to fish on an individual level, particularly the embryonic and recently born tuna and amberjack.

He also explained that fish populations might not be impacted as a whole because of their mobility and the consequent ability to move away from oil affected zones. Mobility notwithstanding, Golden Tilefish, a fish that interacts more with the sediment, had higher and more persistent oil contamination, as did embryos of the Marsh Minnow and the Gulf Killifish which showed elevated hydrocarbon levels due to interactions with affected sediment. As of date, they all said that Gulf seafood was safe to eat.

An NOAA study of 25 March 2014 revealed that yellowfin and bluefin tuna, as well as amberjack, that were embryos, larvae or juveniles when the spill occurred during tuna-spawning season in the northern Gulf of Mexico in April 2010 were seriously affected as they grew older. These fish, some of the speediest predators in the ocean, developed heart defects that could limit their ability to catch food. They would probably die prematurely. The findings are important because they demonstrate oil’s impact on the hearts of some types of fish and could help explain a future die-off of tuna.

Effect on Tourism

Each and every major oil spill has created a slick that has reached a popular beach, if not more. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill affected the five US States that have the Gulf as part of its border. These Gulf States have highly populated coastal areas and a thriving tourism industry that is a significant regional job creator. The popularity of a tourist resort is entirely based on tourist perception; the latter can be truly capricious. An oil spill is bad news for the tourism industry. Tourist destinations are directly affected in areas where the spill has washed up on beaches, or pervaded the air with a strong odor, with the tourism industry also facing serious reputational blows.

After a survey, the Louisiana Office of Tourism found that:

  • 26% of people who had decided to visit the state had postponed or cancelled their trips.
  • A number of people thought that leisure activities related to the sea (swamp tours, boating, etc.) were closed because of the spill which was not the case.
  • The seafood industry was particularly hurt by perceptions that seafood was anathema.
  • Louisiana oysters were rejected in other States.

Negative Impact on the Hospitality Sector: A study across hotels in across Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida  revealed that:

  • Most new resident guests were from oil cleanup crews.
  • 60 percent of hotels surveyed had experienced cancellations starting soon after the blowout.
  • 42 percent of hotels experienced difficulty in booking future events.
  • Rooms and conference halls were often booked at a discount.
  • Lower room occupancy meant lower income. Unoccupied meeting space and empty restaurants also meant lower revenue.

A survey one year later  disclosed that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill had the potential to impact 7.3 million businesses throughout Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, affecting 34.4 million employees and $5.2 trillion in sales volume. That said, an estimated 25% of businesses forced to shut down due to such a disaster do not re-open thereafter. The charter boat and watercraft rental businesses were the worst affected.

Effect on Business

The BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill affected many small and large businesses in the coastal Gulf State regions, either directly or indirectly . The following industries showed a drop in activity level:

  • Commercial fishing,
  • Recreational/tourism,
  • Oyster and seafood processing,
  • BP pipe and fittings suppliers, and numerous others.

Businesses from car dealers to retail outlets were being hurt, according to state and federal officials. The spill was having a ‘multiplier effect’ on charter boats, vacation property owners, and tugboat owners among others, who were seeing customers cancel contracts. Used car sales were off 20 percent because potential customers were holding off on spending out of fear of the spill’s impact, and fishing-related sales were down 80 percent at sporting goods stores. Even the festive Mardi Gras was being hurt because the spill coincides with the due date on float deposits and businesses were also holding off. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who chaired the Senate small business committee said, “Countless related business — restaurants, ice houses, processers, grocery stores, convention centers, and suppliers — are being affected. We are doing everything we can to help.” Indeed, this time around, the Small Business Administration  (SBA) was trying to put into practice the lessons it learned from its scandalous response to the Katrina disaster. Since Katrina, the SBA has increased its disaster assistance work stations from 300 to 1,750. Small businesses faced the biggest long-term impacts. Mom and pop restaurants and small gift shops were severely dented.

Effect on Coral

Most of the seafloor in the Gulf of Mexico consists of fine-grained sediment. However, as an indirect offshoot of both historical and modern natural hydrocarbon seepage in the Gulf, there are numerous exposed carbonate hardgrounds that are often colonized by megafauna, including colonial cold-water corals. Gorgonian corals, also known as sea whips or sea fans, are similar to the sea pen, a soft coral. Gorgonians are technically not coral themselves. Individual tiny polyps form colonies that are normally erect, flattened, branching, and are fan shaped. They are often abundant on these hardgrounds, and five species of gorgonians were recently identified in the Gulf of Mexico below 250 m  depth. These corals increase habitat heterogeneity and provide shelter for a variety of other organisms, including commercial fish species and associated invertebrates. Most cold-water corals are slow-growing; individual gorgonian colonies can live for hundreds to thousands of years . Thus, these corals and the communities that form on and in association with them are unlikely to recover quickly from events lethal to significant portions of the corals.

Effect on Ecology

The 4,000 odd oil rigs in the Gulf have affected the delicate ecological balance that existed just one hundred years ago. They have disrupted the interaction between the many different species of flora and fauna in their natural environment, and this disruption of their regimen has brought about many linked disruptions to the whole chain of species .

Disasters like the Deepwater Horizon affect the established growth principle of sustained ecological and environmental systems, restraining the species in their own habitat, their supply of food, water and other essentials for their survival. As a result, the supply of resources changes and causes major drawbacks to the already preset and proven patterns in the area.

The fragile habitat, already subject to varying climatic changes, had been immersed in an unexpected sludge of oil – a substance that is poisonous, hard to sponge, and which leaves physical residue on the surrounding ecosystem. The marine ecosystem, coastal territory, conditions of the physical and inbred activities—are all in danger following such a disaster. The media and the industry tend to quickly analyze only the physical effects such as the oil sludge in the sea and their washing up along the coast. Their cleanup is only an immediate resolution, the true impact will be seen and felt long after the emergency steps have been implemented.

Scientists and fishermen have discovered fish and crustaceans with skin lesions or other abnormalities in the Gulf. These are the medium-term ecological impacts of the BP oil spill disaster coming to light. The US Food Drug Administration insists that seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is safe to eat regardless of what abnormalities have been found in species so far.  BP also maintains that seafood from the Gulf is as safe to eat as before the oil spill. Does the general public accept these averments blindly? No, they do not. Do you?

Effect on Wildlife

On May 7, 2010—two days before the start of the annual fishing season—oil bounced off Grand Isle and flowed into Terrebonne Bay, Louisiana. In fact, oil fouled 35 percent of the US Gulf Coast’s 2,625 kilometers of shoreline before the spill was done.

The murky waters of the Mississippi River Delta hide a vast variety of life, hence the abundant local commercial and sport fishing. But they also hide the long-term impacts of Deepwater Horizon’s oil spill. The oil that reached shore has been absorbed into the sponge-like wetlands or drifted to the sediment bottom, hurting a shoreline that serves as a nursery for sea life, coastal habitat and a stopover for migratory birds .

Four years after BP’s oil spill, however, its impacts are largely invisible, hidden by the deep, cold waters of the Gulf and dispersed in that vast volume of water or tucked away into the endless marshes of the Louisiana coast. A massive scientific effort is ongoing to precisely quantify the environmental damage caused by the oil spill—whether measured in oily sediments or missing generations of sea life. And a massive battle is on the cards as NOAA takes on BP to decide how much the latter will have to pay for releasing five million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

As a result of this looming legal fight, much of what could be known about ecological impacts remains hidden. Even dead dolphins that washed ashore have been seized by the US government.

Long-term impacts of the oil spill will not be known for years: After the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, it took three years before the local herring fishery collapsed. The loss of entire generations of young marine life may also propagate up the food chain—over time. Scientists have found evidence of oil passing into plankton, the broad base of the food web. Impacts to marine life range from outright death to reduced reproduction, altered development, impaired feeding as well as compromised immune systems .

What is amply clear is that the approximately five million barrels of crude oil that spewed into the Gulf of Mexico was toxic—a toxicity multiplied 52 times by the use of nearly two million gallons of dispersant both in the deep sea and at the surface. BP’s Macondo well oil itself smothered birds; more than 8,000 such birds representing 102 different species were collected—2,263 of them already dead—by government workers. This is just a fraction of the birds affected because an oil-coated bird at sea sinks. The Center for Biological Diversity estimates that the oil spill killed or harmed approximately 82,000 birds as well as more than 6,000 sea turtles and 25,000 marine mammals, such as various species of dolphins. Alligators have also borne the brunt of this misfortune, given the depredation of their coastal habitat.

The Recovery Process: Oil Dispersants Come Full Circle

As early as 15 May 2010, the US Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authorized BP to use chemical dispersants underwater to help break up the oil leaking freely into the Gulf of Mexico at close to 60,000 bpd. The dispersant selected by BP was Nalco Holding’s Corexit 9500, the recipe of which was classified as trade secret. Nalco did append a caution: Corexit 9500 could cause irritation to the eyes, skin and respiratory tract with prolonged contact. Toxicologists and environmental scientists said, however, that dispersants were unlikely to cause immediate harm to people. Charlie Henry, scientific support coordinator with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, stated that the dispersants being used in the Gulf  showed ‘fairly low toxicity’.

Oil dispersants are a common product used to clean and control oil spills in the ocean. They are special fluid chemicals that bond to the oil molecules and separate them from water molecules, thus breaking up the oil. The result is tiny oil droplets that can biodegrade more quickly than a mass of oil. Though they are chemicals, they are generally less harmful than the highly toxic oil, according to the Coast Guard and EPA. EPA administrator Lisa Jackson  believed that “using them on an oil spill produced the lesser of two difficult environmental outcomes.” But there were some naysayers, including Ken Rosenberg of Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology, who believed that dispersants still posed a problem for the environment. In his words , “Almost certainly it’s going to have major effects down in the water to the marine life and, ultimately, this is the same marine life on which the birds and animals on the surface are dependent.” What they did agree upon was the fact that roe and larvae, shrimp, coral and oysters were potentially at the highest risk from dispersants.

The concept of using dispersants underwater was new, and BP planned to inject them directly into the oil flow at a point close to the main leak on the seabed. The technique could possibly help break up and disperse the oil before it reached the surface, BP hoped.

BP attacked the oil spill full bore, using skimmers, booms, domes, controlled burning and chemical dispersants – to try to clean up the 1000-barrel (own estimate) per day spillage. Historically, for an oil spill at sea, only 10 to 15 percent of the oil is recovered, a fact that would be re-established in the years to come. This is because the oil becomes a very thin film on top of the water, called sheen. “You can skim only about three percent off the water,” according to the Coast Guard, a figure that would be borne out in time.

The Plan:

BP’s plan was to use:

  • Chemical dispersants: Drop chemical dispersant from the air into the Gulf, to break up the oil slick into smaller droplets. The droplets then get mixed into the water, where they are subjected to ocean currents and natural degradation processes.
  • Skimmers: Once broken up, skimming vessels would go in and collect what was left. The droplets would be collected in drums and some of that material would be cleaned and recycled, with the rest properly disposed.
  • Controlled burn: BP and the Coast Guard, along with other agencies, would use a fireproof boom to corral dense parts of the oil spill, moving it to another location and then burning it. In general, burning is probably the most effective method for cleaning up heavy oil like that leaking in the Gulf, but it had its drawbacks. When you burn near the coast, wildlife is also destroyed. Offshore burning is relatively difficult.
  • Collection domes: BP started to put together a subsea oil collection system, and when used, it would be the first time this shallow-water technology would be adapted for deep water. An excellent ploy up to 300 feet below the surface, but the oil leaks to be covered were nearly a mile down. BP expected it to be ready for deployment within four weeks. When ready, the dome would be placed on the seabed to capture the leaking oil. This oil would then be pumped up to surface vessels that could collect the oil and take it away.

As for the dispersed oil that wasn’t skimmed or burned off or otherwise collected, both BP and US authorities felt it would disperse naturally, eventually breaking up and evaporating. Bacteria could also help degrade most of the oil. If history was a guide, the findings suggested that oil spills could have an impact on the environment for much longer than previously envisaged, even decades.

BP succeeded in placing a 280,000 lb (125 tonne) containment dome over the largest leak to pipe the oil to a storage vessel. Regrettably, this shallow water technique failed because gas combined with cold water at 4°C to form methane hydrate crystals that blocked the opening at the top of the dome. BP then inserted a mile-long riser insertion tube into a pipe leading to the BOP and a stopper-like washer around the tube plugged the end of the riser and diverted the flow into the insertion tube. The collected gas was flared and oil stored onboard drillship Discoverer Enterprise, collecting 924,000 US gallons (22,000 bbl; 3,500 m3) of oil. This set up was dismantled on 14 June. On 16 June  a second containment system connected directly to the blowout preventer began carrying oil and gas to service vessels, where it was consumed in a clean-burning system.

How the Leak Was Contained

Installing the sealing cap involved a multiple stage process with several vessels and remotely operated vehicles over a four to seven day period . The following videos will show how much time and effort was involved.

  1. Sealing cap installation overview (video).
  2. Sealing Cap Installation 1 – Remove LMRP Cap – 14 July 2010.
  3. Sealing Cap Installation 2 – Remove Bolts and Flange – 14 July 2010.
  4. Sealing Cap Installation 3 – Drill Pipe Inspection – 14 July 2010.
  5. Sealing Cap Installation 4 – Flange Transition Spool Install – 14 July 2010.
  6. Sealing Cap Installation 5 – 3 Ram Stack Install – 14 July 2010.

The Volte Face: BP Clean-up Made Oil Spill 52 Times More Toxic

A study conducted by researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology in the United States and the Universidad Autonoma de Aguascalientes (UAA) in Mexico has found that the clean-up mission appears to have made the disaster even worse: 52 times worse, to be exact. This is a direct refutation of what was claimed so far.

The study arrived at this conclusion by looking at rotifers , microscopic organisms at the bottom of the Gulf’s food chain, like meiofauna. Five types of rotifers were used for this experiment because they are very sensitive to toxicity and react quickly to changes in environment. When rotifers were exposed to oil-dispersant mixtures, they died extremely quickly. Researchers also found that as little as 2.6 percent of the oil-dispersant mixture prevented rotifer eggs from hatching by 50 percent. The finding about rotifer eggs was particularly agonizing for researchers because rotifer eggs hatch each spring into rotifers, providing food for baby fish, shrimp, and crabs.

Furious backpedalling was noticed. UAA was very charitable when it said, “Dispersants are preapproved to help clean up oil spills and are widely used during disasters. Obviously we had poor understanding of their toxicity. Our study indicates the increase in toxicity may have been greatly underestimated following the Macondo well explosion.”

What remains to be determined is how much the benefits of dispersing the oil by using Corexit or similar dispersants are outweighed by the substantial increase in toxicity of the mixture. Perhaps we should allow the oil to naturally disperse. It might take longer, but it would have less toxic impact on marine ecosystems. Two million tons of Corexit on almost five million tons of crude oil-we are looking at decades, like Dr. Cake!

Did BP Use Sickening Chemicals to Clean Gulf Coast Oil Spill?

Now the tack has changed and BP has been served a double whammy. The first was the entirely avoidable man-made disaster of the Deepwater Horizon, caused by mankind’s insatiable philargyria or avarice. BP has learned that money begets money, but when the path is not entirely straight, past sins have this wicked habit of revisiting you. The second is the blame in toto for poisoning the Gulf of Mexico and depriving the poor and needy of means of sustenance in the human context and the killing, direct or indirect, of thousands of life forms in the world of Mother Nature.

Apart from the grotesque deformities in sea life described so far, more need to be considered:

  • Dead dolphins in record numbers, killed by weakened immune systems and brucella bacteria
  • Blue crab populations wiped out
  • Oyster beds not reproducing
  • 60% of coral on platforms killed

As BP was trying to contain the post-explosion oil spillage, the U.S. government allowed the company to apply chemical ‘dispersants’ to the blossoming oil slick to prevent toxic grunge from reaching the fragile bays, beaches, and mangroves of the coast, where so much marine life originates. Recent studies show that BP and the feds may have made a huge mistake, for which everything from microscopic organisms to bottlenose dolphins are now paying the highest price.

After the spill, BP acquired about a third of the world’s supply of dispersants, namely Corexit 9500 and 9527. Of the two, 9527 is more toxic . Corexit dispersants emulsify oil into tiny beads, causing them to sink toward the bottom. Wave action and wind turbulence degrade the oil further, and evaporation concentrates the toxins in the oil-Corexit mixture, including dangerous compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), known to cause cancer and developmental disorders.

Hydrocarbon-laden, mutated seafood is not the only legacy left behind by Corexit. Steve Kolian, a researcher and founder of the nonprofit ecology sustenance group EcoRigs, had his divers take water and marine life samples at several locations in the months following the blowout. Now, they and many other Gulf residents are sick, with horrific symptoms, including bleeding from the nose, ears, breasts, and even anus. Others complain of cognitive damage, including what one man calls getting “stuck stupid,” when he temporarily cannot move or speak, but can still hear. “If we are getting sick, then you know the marine life out in the Gulf is too,” Kolian said.

After the dispersants were exhausted, it has been discovered that they didn’t degrade as expected, that air deployment likely contaminated crops, and that it could have created toxic rain in other parts of the world.

Cleaning up the Oil Slick

Apart from the various methods discussed to clean up an oil slick, many other methods remain undisclosed. Some range from the novel to the quirky to the new-generation automatic. CNBC has come up with 17 Ways To Clean Up The Gulf Oil Spill. Use the link to read them.

In the eBook Deep Sea Oil Spill Cleanup Techniques: Applicability, Trade-offs and Advantages written by Pam Graham  for ProQuest Discovery Guides, she covers the basic methods, explaining how they work. Space and aircraft-based remote sensors (which work by detecting color, reflectance, temperature, roughness and other sea surface properties) are proving useful in a variety of oil spill detection modes, such as large area surveillance, site specific monitoring, and tactical assistance in emergencies. They are expensive and operators need to be highly trained, however, a minor constraint. According to her, the ideal system would be completely automatic to reduce operational staff; would be capable of delivering real-time data (including wave and current information) with no need for post-processing, and would be able to see oil spills in the dark, enabling 24/7 vigilance.

Containment: Oil Booms

When oil is accidentally released into a body of water, the most urgent priority is limiting the spill’s spread to minimize the natural resources at risk and to facilitate cleanup and removal. Swift and skillful deployment of a containment boom is essential for achieving both of these goals. Because oil is less dense than water, it rises to the surface, where floating fences called booms can corral it.

In its simplest form, a boom consists of a length of rugged fabric with buoyant filler stitched into the side intended to float above the water, and a heavy chain or other ballast inserted into the bottom to weigh down the sub-surface skirt and make it sink. Boom material is brightly colored for ease of recovery and to help crews spot a break in the line. The freeboard (above surface) component is commonly designed to reduce splash-over, while the skirt is engineered to keep oil from escaping beneath the boom. In the Gulf, containment booms stretching over 4,200,000 feet (1,300 km) were deployed, either to corral the oil or as barriers to protect marshes, mangroves, shrimp/ crab/oyster ranches or other ecologically sensitive areas. If one-time-use sorbent booms were added, the total length would increase to 13,300,000 feet (4,100 km). Other contraptions include Skimmers, Separators and the like.

The novel ones include the Cherrington Beach Cleaner, the Heavy Oil Recovery Device(HORD), the Sand-Washing Unit, the Navy MZ-3A airship and finally, The Whale. This last behemoth is the world’s largest oil-skimming vessel, operated by a Taiwanese company and recently retrofitted in Portugal to be more effective in cleaning up Deepwater Horizon oil. A Whale is three-and-a-half football fields long, 10 stories high and, through vents on the side of its bow, can suck up 21 million gallons of oil-contaminated water a day. Given its bulk and size, the Whale is hard to maneuver and slow. The Coast Guard is worried it may not be nimble enough to skim the ever-shape-shifting slick, although it is still testing the vessel near the spill site to determine whether or not it will actually be used in the cleanup effort. Kevin Costner has also devised equipment to tackle the problem, and his video is very interesting.

Controlled Burn

In what is also known as an in situ burn, fire booms which are U-shaped devices that are towed behind two boats and used to pull oil away from the main spill for safe burning, can be used when seas are below 3 feet and when sufficient amounts of oil can be corralled. Controlled burns were used at the Deepwater Horizon spill site through mid-May, 2010 when conditions were right. By June 22, more than 225 controlled burns have been conducted that removed more than 9.3 million gallons of oil from the open water.

After the loss of 11 precious lives and the oil rig (estimated at $100 million), BP claimed to have spent close to $6 million per day during the 87 day salvage operation. Other assessors are a bit more conservative and estimated that the initial cost of cleaning up was closer to $5 million than six. The provisional expenses so far have totaled $42.4 billion, of which $20 billion had been set aside as a compensation fund to pay victims of the oil spill. With the legal battle set to go into 2015 as indicated by syndicated news columns of 27 March 2014, BP could be staring at a figure nearer $90 billion. This final amount would depend on how the trial court under Judge Carl Barbier evaluates overall costs. What is astonishing is that in July 2010, BP had first estimated its cleanup outgo as just $450 million. The link is to a video that puts forth BP’s argument.

Is the Cleanup Complete?

As of June 2013, BP claimed that its clean up task had been completed in the states of Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. The responsibility of examining any further reports of oil sightings would now lie with the Coast Guard. BP assumed the entire responsibility for patrolling about 85 coastal miles of the State of Louisiana , where the ongoing cleanup would continue at a faster pace. There was a rider to this definitive statement. If oil was sighted outside the State of Louisiana, the report would be sent to the National Response Center which would further authorize the Coast Guard to use sampling, matching, fingerprinting and other investigative means to identify the source of the pollution and find the responsible party. If the oil was found to be MC252 oil (the designation of oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill), BP would be held accountable for the cleanup. No timeframe was set for completing the task for Louisiana.

BP Puts Finger Into Own Pie

BP settled with most private plaintiffs in March 2012, just before a trial on liability for the disaster. Starting with $4.0 billion, BP had upped the sum to $7.8 in 2011, before resting its final amount at $9.2 billion in March 2012. In what is being seen as a massive goof-up, BP’s lawyers negotiated the settlement in Judge Barbier’s court with scores of civil plaintiff’s lawyers in a very loosely worded agreement, which they now contend was done as a matter of honor. Reminded that this was the US and not the UK, BP was informed by a federal appeals court to abide by terms of the settlement with victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill after failing to satisfy judges that a claims administrator was misinterpreting the deal. The cash value amounts to $9.2 billion as of now.

BP had argued that Judge Carl Barbier of Federal District Court and the court-appointed claims administrator, Patrick Juneau, had misinterpreted settlement terms in ways that would force the oil giant, based in London, to pay for billions of dollars in inflated or false claims by individuals and businesses . BP’s video on p. 21 is quite clear on the issue. Federal officials had made public an indictment in October 2013 of seven people accused of receiving thousands of dollars in fraudulent claims from BP, according to the Associated Press. Four of the defendants are relatives of Alabama’s secretary of Law Enforcement and Homeland Security. The Alabama indictments were unveiled as a court-appointed special master, former FBI Director Louis Freeh, investigated allegations of improprieties in the administration of a multibillion-dollar BP claims settlement designed to compensate business and economic harm. But the current ruling is that BP has to pay up, regardless of the actuals. BP has challenged Judge Barbier in his own backyard, setting the scene for a long legal battle. “The craziest thing about the settlement,” said Tampa attorney Kevin McLean, “is that you can be compensated for losses that are unrelated to the spill.”

The same ruling holds good for businesses also, the difference being that the sums involved are larger. A construction company in northern Alabama, 200 miles from the coast, was recently awarded $9.7 million, even though it does no work near the Gulf of Mexico, according to court records. Attorneys are submitting claims on their own behalf. A law office in central Louisiana that actually enjoyed improved profits in 2010 collected $3.3 million. The compensation process is confidential, so claimants’ identities aren’t a matter of public record, though the amounts are. Thus far 63,128 eligible claims have been awarded and 52,525 claims have been denied by Juneau, including one for an iPad. A $173,000 payout to an “adult escort service ” that BP said was filed with unsigned and undated financial documents was also approved. Other factual evidence included:

  • A lawyer located midland, whose business license was revoked for all of 2010 ($172,253).
  • A wireless phone store closed through 2010 after a fire ($135,258).
  • A nursing home in Louisiana that shut down a year before the spill happened ($662,834).

Even as it continues a cheerful quarter-billion-dollar print and television ad campaign about how the Gulf has returned to normal, BP is crying foul. “It was never our intention for the company to become an open cash register for every claim or project anyone could dream up,” says BP spokesman Geoff Morrell. Locals say BP may have been naive.

An official Court-authorized website titled Deepwater Horizon Claims Center: Economic & Property Damage Claims  now guides anybody and everybody on how to put in a claim if they are an affected party.

Medical Claim Settlement

The official procedure was provided by the US Law Dept. On Jan. 11, 2013, US District Judge Barbier granted final approval of the Medical Benefits Class Action Settlement, effective wef Feb. 12, 2014. The deadline for filing a claim under the Medical Benefits Settlement is Feb. 12, 2015.

Eligibility for Payments:

The following people living in the United States as of April 16, 2012, who were exposed to the spill or the dispersant used to clean up the spill and became sick with certain acute or chronic illnesses may be eligible for payment:

  • Residents living within 1/2 mile of specified beachfront areas in AL, LA, MS or the FL panhandle for some time on each of at least 60 days between April 20, 2010, and Sept. 30, 2010 (Zone A).
  • Residents living within one mile of specified wetlands in the areas of AL, LA, MS or the FL panhandle for some time on each of at least 60 days between April 20, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2010 (Zone
  • Cleanup workers who participated in land and water cleanup efforts between April 20, 2010, and April 16, 2012.

The data provided is essentially a comprehensive medical document.

Oil Spill Deforms Sea Life

The after effects of the 2010 BP oil spill are gradually emerging . As stated earlier, marine life has been horribly disfigured, e.g., shrimp with tumors, eyeless fish, and crabs with holes in their shells, etc. Prior to the spill, only 0.1 percent of Gulf fish had lesions or sores on them. After the spill, this figure jumped 200 times to 20 percent of fish having lesions with as much as 50 percent in other areas. Al Jazeera compiled and published a disturbing report on the after-effects:

  • Shrimp with tumors on their heads.
  • Shrimp with defects on their gills and “shells missing around their gills and head.”
  • Shrimp without eyes.
  • Shrimp with babies still attached to them.
  • Eyeless fish.
  • Fish without eye-sockets.
  • Fish without covers on their gills.
  • Fish with large pink masses hanging off their eyes and gills.
  • Crates of blue crabs, all of which were lacking at least one claw.
  • Crabs with holes in their shells.
  • Crabs with shells that have no spikes or claws or misshapen claws.
  • Crabs that are dying from within.


The after effects on turtles, alligators, dolphins, groupers, other fish, deep-sea life forms, tuna and other fast moving predatory fish have already been documented. Pelicans, gulls and other seabirds have also become prey to this gigantic disaster as have speckled trout, redfish, flounder, West Indian manatees, whooping cranes, Mississippi sand hill cranes and wood storks. The number of deaths cannot be calculated on a progressive basis, as birds and fish and smaller life forms could die unobserved. Numbers are of little significance, as 2010 figures across the board were humongous and affected species had their longevity reduced drastically.

Turning to mankind, we now know that the dispersants used to clean up the oil spill are toxic to humans. Symptoms of exposure  include “headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains, chest pains, respiratory system damage, skin sensitization, hypertension, central nervous system depression, neurotoxic effects, cardiac arrhythmia and cardiovascular damage.” Even more damningly, it can disturb the growth and development of a fetus. This is a wake-up call to governing bodies to balance filthy lucre against a God-given chance to lead a healthy and normal life.

Where are the oiled specimens of life now? Read this report…

Types of Animals in Danger Because of the Spill

The types of life forms affected by the spill are legion, as can be gathered by the presentation so far. However, some more species include:

  • Migratory songbirds. About 96 species of neo-tropical songbirds like warblers, orioles, buntings, flycatchers and swallows make a 500-mile journey without a pit stop across the Gulf of Mexico. The polluted air in the early days could have affected them.
  • Sharks, including the Tiger Shark. The grass beds south of the Chandeleur Islands, which sit very close to this spill, are a known spawning and nursing area for a number of species of sharks.
  • Brown Pelican. The Brown Pelican, which serves as the state bird of Louisiana, has had a difficult
  • time with storms over the past few seasons and only came off the endangered species list a year ago.
  • Oysters. The coastal waters around the very tip of Louisiana’s boot-shaped coast are home to some of the most productive oyster farms in the country. Oils and hydrocarbons are toxic to oysters.

An interactive collection is available at this link.


Government Report Blames BP on Oil Spill

As expected, the US Govt. placed the blame squarely on BP, wriggling out of its own shoddy complicity in the accident. As brought out earlier, the report says:

The loss of life at the Macondo site on April 20, 2010, and the subsequent pollution of the Gulf of Mexico through the summer of 2010 were the result of poor risk management, last-minute changes to plans, failure to observe and respond to critical indicators, inadequate well control response, and insufficient emergency bridge response training by companies and individuals responsible for drilling at the Macondo well and for the operation of the Deepwater Horizon.

The fact that both President Obama and BP called it a force majeure does not find mention anywhere. A list of the federal regulation violations that led to the Deepwater Horizon disaster is a duplication of what this article has already revealed:

  • BP failed to protect health, safety, property, and the environment by (1) performing all operations in a safe and workmanlike manner; and (2) maintaining all equipment and work areas in a safe condition.
  • BP, Transocean, and Halliburton (Sperry Sun) failed to take measures to prevent the unauthorized release of hydrocarbons into the Gulf of Mexico and creating conditions that posed unreasonable risk to public health, life, property, aquatic life, wildlife, recreation, navigation, commercial fishing, or other uses of the ocean
  • BP, Transocean, and Halliburton (Sperry Sun) failed to take necessary precautions to keep the well under control at all times.
  • BP and Halliburton failed to cement the well in a manner that would properly control
  • formation pressures and fluids and prevent the release of fluids from any stratum through the wellbore into offshore waters.
  • BP failed to use pressure integrity test and related hole-behavior observations, such as pore pressure test results, gas-cut drilling fluid, and well kicks to adjust the drilling fluid program and the setting depth of the next casing string.
  • BP and Transocean failed to conduct major inspections of all BOP stack components.
  • BP failed to perform the negative test procedures detailed in an application for a permit to modify its plans.


Federal Response to Oil Spill Comes Under Renewed Criticism

The federal response to the oil spill was roundly criticized, particularly when Obama changed tack midway, stressing the need for additional exploratory sites in distant areas. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was more focused, voicing frustration with what he described as the government’s ‘disjointed’ response to the spill. He pressed officials for additional containment boom, skimmers and other resources and repeated his request for approval to begin building a series of protective sand barriers. “This oil threatens not only our coast and our wetlands, this oil fundamentally threatens our way of life in southeastern Louisiana,” Jindal  said.

Sand berms were built in 2010 to block BP oil from Louisiana’s coast. Recently, however, several berms in Barataria Basin are being fortified into barrier islands by the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, using funds from BP ($360 million). These berms-to-barriers projects–located about 50 miles south of New Orleans on the west side of the Mississippi River–are within the first line of defense against coastal erosion.

Federal Government Responsibility

As already shown, the federal govt. initially assisted BP in its drilling activities, though MMS issued clearances without carrying out the background checks mandated by law. However, no lawsuit has been filed against the govt. for failing in its duties of overseeing all activities, considering that it was the owner of the Gulf area affected and was selling leases for oil drilling. BP is, however, crusading against the govt., stating that the govt. must share some liability for what took place under the lease. Strident calls by diverse plaintiffs for punitive actions and levying steep fines on BP have taken center stage, with a no-holds barred battle between BP and the multitude of plaintiffs collecting all attention.

On 21 February 2014, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals kept alive BP’s request to have the full court review its expensive settlement with private businesses affected by its 2010 oil spill, with one dissident judge accepting that freebooters were partaking of BP’s claim settlement payment. BP also faulted the govt. for not ensuring a fair trial, citing the case where the district court failed to follow a clear legal directive to enter an injunction preventing payments to claimants who did not suffer harm traceable to the Deepwater Horizon accident. Regarding Deepwater Horizon, the question is whether the govt. failed to exercise its regulatory obligations. It did fail. There were many lapses in regulatory enforcement that the federal government must accept responsibility for.

Some clear cases are:

  • The US Dept. of the Interior exempted BP’s Gulf of Mexico drilling operation from a detailed environmental impact study as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
  • The Dept. of the Interior accepted replacement of the damaged Transocean Marianas, without confirming if the MMS had checked out the replacement rig, the Deepwater Horizon and its safety mechanisms.
  • The environmental risk was miscalculated, and the govt. seems to have been unprepared to fulfill its responsibility to clean up the spill.
  • Financial interests in energy production (royalty and taxes) tend to align the government’s interests with those of its corporate partners. This could create a perception of impropriety.
  • If the govt. and industry grow closer together, this relationship could hamper the government’s ability to provide fair and efficient regulation.

As policymakers  reevaluate the regulatory regime over offshore drilling, they should consider the following:

  • Do not ban offshore drilling.
  • Hold lessee fully liable for drilling operations.
  • Keep primary responsibility for safety with the lessee.
  • Limit federal intervention into the energy industry.
  • Review the NEPA process.

The 21 February 2014 ruling was overturned in March 2014. BP would now be required to stick to the agreement it had committed to in 2010 and reaffirmed in 2012 that it would honor all claims.

The Bill So Far For the Deepwater Horizon Disaster

  1. Beach and other cleanup costs – $14bn
  2. Early claims settled – $9bn
  3. Early restoration projects – $1bn
  4. Criminal charges with the department of justice – $4bn
  5. Individual and small businesses claims through plaintiff steering committee –  $7.8bn(9.2bn)
  6. Securities and Exchange Commission claims – $525m


  1. Claims from local and state governments – $34bn
  2. Worst case scenario damages under a Clean Water Act – $21bn
  3. Natural resource damages – (unquantified)
  4. BP has won back $5bn from well equity partners Anadarko and Mitsui. -$5bn
  5. No settlement yet with rig operator Transocean or contractor Halliburton

Total $87.725bn

Timeline of the Gulf Coast Oil Spill and the Response by the Federal Government

  • Tuesday, April 20:

Government responds to late-night report that the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon had exploded and was on fire.

  • Wednesday, April 21:

Coast Guard rescue helicopters and a rescue plane respond to the site, searching for 11 missing workers.
Interior Department’s No. 2 official, David Hayes, goes to New Orleans; Minerals Management Service (MMS) and Coast Guard establish operations centers near site of explosion.

  • Thursday, April 22:

Deepwater Horizon oil rig sinks.
Search-and-rescue operations includes 17 missions – 12 by air and five in the water.
National Response Team is activated. Organization of 16 federal departments and agencies including the White House, Coast Guard, the departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Interior, and Environmental Protection Agency, among others.
President Barack Obama convenes an Oval Office meeting to discuss ongoing response efforts.
Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) with camera goes under water, confirms no visible oil flow from the well. Chemical dispersants intended to break up the oil slick readied.

  • Friday, April 23:

Authorities conduct 28 search-and-rescue operations covering about 5,300 square miles. At 5 p.m., Coast Guard suspends the search for the missing 11.
Rig found upside down about ¼ miles from BOP. Oil sheen reported, no apparent leak discovered.
Homeland Security risk analysis says incident “poses a negligible risk to regional oil supply markets and will not cause significant national economic impacts.”

  • Saturday, April 24:

Homeland Security report on critical infrastructure says problem has “no near-term impact to regional or national crude oil or natural gas supplies.”
Oil is found leaking from the well for the first time; pressure and rate of release are unknown.

  • Sunday, April 25:

20 more vessels and 500 responders deployed.
Oil leak is estimated at 1,000 barrels a day (42,000 gallons).
Homeland Security report says estimated discharge rate could reach 64,000 to 110,000 barrels of oil per day if rig was to completely blow out.
Five missions disperse about 13,000 gallons of chemical dispersants.
Homeland Security report: “Current NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) oil trajectories predict no oil threat to shoreline within next 72 hours.”

  • Monday, April 26:

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar instructs MMS to physically inspect all deepwater rigs within two weeks, followed by physical inspections of all deepwater platforms .


Time is a great healer. No one remembers the Valdez Exxon; soon Deepwater Horizon will fade away into the murky nether world of black history. The Gulf of Mexico, which has always had an off and with history over the past half-century, is now roaring back to life with at least 10 recent mega-discoveries that have fueled oil explorers’ enthusiasm for the region we just condemned. Billions of dollars are being poured into new wells in the ultra-deep waters off Texas and Louisiana, technology is making extraction from deeper oils possible and facile, airing a phoenix that could set a production record this decade and complete a recovery from the worst offshore oil spill in US history.

Energy consultants Wood Mackenzie  says, “By 2020, the deepwater Gulf, which accounts for about half the Gulf’s 252,000 square miles of federal waters, is expected to produce an average of more than 1.9 million barrels a day, a new high.” US crude production has surged in recent years, largely because companies used hydraulic fracturing and advanced drilling technology to open onshore shale formations. Chevron (CVX), Royal Dutch Shell (RDS/A), and Anadarko Petroleum (APC) are looking to cross the Gulf’s 2009 peak; production collapsed after BP’s (BP) 2010 spill. That disaster, and the five-month drilling moratorium that followed, led to an exodus of rigs and drilling equipment as regulators bolstered safety requirements. BP, the culprit of yesteryear, never went into the red and is a major operator in the deep Gulf. It was the biggest producer there in 2012 and has ownership stakes in more than 650 leases.

Adieu, Deepwater Horizon.


  1. Volume of oil exiting the damaged well.
  2. Ramseur and Hagerty, 2013. Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Recent activities & ongoing developments.
  3. What is Petroleum?
  4. Undersea organisms such as zooplankton and algae
  5. Formation of kerogen.
  6. See 5
  7. Rates for leasing deepwater oil rigs - Rigzone
  8. Rates for leasing deepwater oil rigs - Bloomberg
  9. Cap rock.
  10. See 5
  11. Drill String.
  12. Drill string casing.
  13. Blow Out Preventer.
  14. See 13
  15. Ibid
  16. Central Gulf of Mexico Planning Area Lease Sale 206 Information.
  17. Shareholders in the Macondo well prospect.
  18. Date given for completion.
  19. Deepwater Horizon cost per day.
  20. Ibid.
  21. See 17
  22. See 17
  23. BOP failure.
  24. BP engineers’ reported argument.
  25. First line of defense vs kickbacks and blowouts.
  26. Where Did the Discharge Finally Go?< Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2012, DOI: 10.1073/ pnas.1214389109>
  27. Evaluation of forecast uncertainty.
  28. Chemical data quantify Deepwater Horizon hydrocarbon flow rate and environmental distribution.
  29. Deepwater Horizon hydrocarbon flow rate and environmental distribution.
  30. Macondo material composition.
  31. Effect on Microbial Life Forms.
  32. Montagna P.A, Baguley J.G, Cooksey C., Hartwell I., Hyde LJ., et al. (2013) Deep-Sea Benthic Footprint of the Deepwater Horizon Blowout. PLoS ONE 8(8): e70540. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070540 Published: August 07, 2013. < http:// aquaticcommons. org/14671/>
  33. Effect on Gulf Seafood Industry.
  34. Ibid.
  35. Goldman, Jason G. Oil-exposed Louisiana dolphins show variety of maladies.
  36. Alexander-Bloch, Benjamin. BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill’s impact on Gulf of Mexico.
  37. Ibid.
  38. Ibid.
  39. Darryl Fears. Deepwater Horizon oil spill effects on tuna likely to prove fatal.
  40. Effect on Tourism.
  41. Ibid.
  42. Deepwater Horizon impact potential.
  43. BP Gulf Oil Spill: The Impact On Coastal Businesses.
  44. BP Oil Spill Rips Through Gulf Small Businesses.
  45. Effect on Coral.
  46. Environmental Impact of the BP Oil Spill.
  47. How Did the BP Oil Spill Affect Gulf Coast Wildlife?
  48. Ibid.
  49. NOAA states Corexit dispersants have low toxicity.
  50. Ibid.
  51. Ibid.
  52. What is sheen?
  53. Ibid.
  54. Second containment system connected.
  55. How the Leak Was Contained.
  56. Environmental Pollution, Volume 173, February 2013, Pages 5–10.
  57. Takepart.
  58. Ibid.
  59. Ibid.
  60. Deep Sea Oil Spill Cleanup Techniques: Applicability, Trade-offs and Advantages. eBook. Graham P. ProQuest Discovery Guides.
  61. Containment novelties.
  62. Controlled Burn.
  63. Cost of Cleaning Up.
  64. Is the Cleanup Complete?
  65. Fraudulent claims vs BP.
  66. Adult escort service paid.
  67. Court-authorized website.
  68. Medical Claim Settlement.
  69. Oil Spill Deforms Sea Life.
  70. Symptoms of exposure.
  71. Where are the oiled specimens of life now?
  72. Government Report Blames BP on Oil Spill.
  73. Federal response to oil spill criticized.
  74. Regulatory regime over offshore drilling.
  75. Timeline of the Gulf Coast Oil Spill.
  76. US crude production in the Gulf to surge.







This entry was posted in: Blog.

Understanding Celiac disease

May is Celiac Awareness Month in the United States. Many of us have heard of celiac disease, but with so many conditions, illnesses and diseases affecting Americans today, it’s hard to stay educated on the many points of illness or disease that attack our personal health and well-being.

It is important to understand different allergies, conditions and diseases in order to be aware of what could be affecting your body. We have provided the basics behind celiac disease for you below. Naturally, we do recommend further research. When it comes to promoting your long-term personal health and encouraging healthy lifestyle choices within your community – awareness is everything.

An Introduction to Celiac Disease

Gluten-Free-300x300Celiac disease is defined as an autoimmune disorder that prevents a person from properly absorbing and digesting foods that contain gluten. Gluten is a protein found in foods sources containing barley, rye or wheat. When a person is diagnosed with celiac disease, their body will respond to gluten based food sources by destroying something called villi, which is located in the small intestine. Villi are largely responsible for helping to absorb nutrients into the larger small intestine. Damage to villi therefore, will result in the inability to absorb essential nutrients into the bloodstream.

Common signs or symptoms associated with celiac disease can include, but are not limited to bloating, diarrhea, extreme abdominal pain, weight loss, delayed growth due to malnutrition, significant fatigue, and loss in bone density, numbness in the hands and/or feet and depression.

Most often, a health care practitioner will begin treatment for celiac disease by recommending a gluten-free diet. If you have noticed signs or symptoms that could be associated with celiac disease, it is certainly recommended that you speak with your health care practitioner. He or she will be able to conduct a series of tests in order to assess if indeed you are suffering from celiac disease, or if there are other changes that could be made to your daily nutritional regime to assist in comfortable, smooth digestion. Celiac disease is also genetic. All first and second-degree relatives should be tested for celiac disease when a family member is diagnosed.

The Gluten Free Diet:

A detailed breakdown of convenient gluten free decisions for your daily nutritional intake can be found through the Celiac Spruce Foundation.

Here is a list of four simple changes that can be introduced into your daily nutritional intake – without feeling like significant sacrifices to your regular meals!

Lean Meats and Other Sources of Protein

Protein intake is crucial to the personal health of absolutely everyone. The importance of protein increases for people on a gluten free diet. People suffering from celiac disease don’t often get enough protein. When we experience protein deficiencies we feel weak, malnourished, and fatigued. Because a person with celiac disease has difficulty with absorption of nutrients, it is important to boost protein intake to ensure your body is getting the essential nutrients it needs to function at its best. Keep in mind that complete proteins are high quality proteins. Meat, fish, eggs, and dairy are the most common sources of complete protein in people’s diets.

Meat and fish are especially important because they help make up for the lack of dairy in many celiac’s diets. Lactose intolerance and celiac disease will often coincide.

Lean meats are also high in essential nutrients like zinc, iron, and B12 all of which are especially important for you. For those following a vegetarian diet, fortunately, there are a number of gluten free foods rich in protein that are vegetarian friendly.

Eggs, dairy, gluten free tofu, and quinoa are great complete protein sources for vegetarians. Other vegetarian protein sources include nuts, black beans, lentils, and hemp protein powder.

Legumes: Complex Carbohydrates Packed with Protein

Healthy-meal-300x199When following a gluten free diet, it’s important to make sure we are still seeking out strong food sources of fiber. Fiber promotes intestinal health, works to balance cholesterol levels, and helps to stabilize blood sugar levels. Grains are the top source of fiber in America. For many celiacs, cutting out grains means cutting out most of the fiber in their diet. Legumes, like beans and lentils, are incredible replacements for gluten based grains. Like grains, legumes are stocked with complex carbohydrates and fiber. In fact, legumes are stronger than grains because they’re also loaded with protein! Beans and lentils are also excellent sources of calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, folic acid, and antioxidants. The nutrients found in legumes are vital when it comes to combating the weak nutrient absorption that is attached to celiac disease.

These nutrients are all very important to combat a damaged small intestine and weak nutrient absorption stemming from celiac disease.


Yogurt is considered a healthy good item but not many actually understand why. The key to the importance of yogurt when it comes to any autoimmune disorder is probiotics. Probiotics are the good bacteria in your intestine that are a must for digestive health and building up your immune system. Eat just a single yogurt per day and your intestine will thank you for it.

Veggies, Veggies, Veggies

Vegetables are literally jam packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and (sometimes) even essential fatty acids. Dark, leafy vegetables are the most nutrient dense of them all. Different vegetables have different benefits so it is best to try and eat a variety of vegetables on a daily basis. Try to include vegetables with very meal (even breakfast!).

Following a gluten-free diet has become popular among people who have not been diagnosed with celiac disease for various other health benefits such as weight loss.

At the end of the day, it’s all about finding the daily health care plan that works for you, and the needs surrounding your personal health. Above all else, we recommend that you work with your family physician, to develop the health care plan that best accommodates you and your family’s needs.

This entry was posted in: Awareness, Blog, Conditions and Disorders, Health.

Save Lives: Clean Your Hands!

This past Sunday, May 5 was the World Health Organization’s national Save Lives: Clean Your Hands campaign. Given that there are hundreds of communities across the globe that still suffer from little to no access to clean water, it is not surprising that hand washing in other parts of the world is not second nature. What is surprising is that, in countries like America and Canada, hand washing is still not always second nature and is still falling behind when it comes to preventing the spread of bacteria and infection.

Woman Washing Hands in the Kitchen Sink.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hand washing is the best way to prevent infection and illness. Hands come in contact with bacteria and other contaminants constantly. Regardless of where we live, in New York City or Timbuktu, we come across bacteria when using the restroom, touching common surfaces, in the kitchen, or by a simple handshake.

When we fail to wash our hands, we leave our immune systems open to a bacterial attack and pose a threat to others.

Being from a developed country, many often think, “Thank goodness that doesn’t happen where I’m from.” However, as we maneuver through our days and come in contact with thousands of people who have touched thousands of surfaces, and hundreds of foods – we’re counting on each and every one of them to have practiced safe hand washing procedures. Not only that, we’re counting on every person they’ve come in contact with.

I’m not sharing this information to turn you into a germaphobe, but simply to help educate and encourage you to spread awareness of this importance issue. Washing your hands may seem like a small thing and not crucial if you forget but it could mean the difference between you or somebody else from staying healthy or getting (sometimes dangerously) ill.

Here are some of the dangers associated with not washing your hands frequently:

Salmonella Poisoning

Salmonella can be found in uncooked eggs or raw poultry and spread to other foods through contaminated hands. Handling raw chicken, for instance and then tearing lettuce without washing in between allows the bacteria to transfer from hand to vegetables. For this reason, it is always important to thoroughly wash your hands after handling any uncooked eggs or raw poultry. Salmonella poisoning can result in extreme stomach pains, diarrhea,

nausea and vomiting. In elderly people, or those with a weakened immune system, it can be even more dangerous.


Handwashingwordcloud-271x300Influenza (or the flu) has several debilitating signs and symptoms such as chills, fever, exhaustion, runny nose, aching muscles, dehydration and diarrhea. When left untreated, influenza could also lead to pneumonia, which is can have very severe consequences on ones personal health and well-being.  While the flu is spread through the air, germs are also transferred through hand-to-hand contact. For instance, if a person were to cough into his or her hands, decide not to wash, and then touch someone else’s hands, the germs will spread from one person to the next. This could easily be avoided through frequent hand washing – especially when someone is experiencing symptoms attached to an illness or condition has been labeled as contagious.

E. coli Poisoning

E. coli is a bacterium that is spread from contaminated stool. Sound like an unappealing way to find yourself in contact with bacteria? It is. When a person uses the washroom, and neglects proper hand washing procedures afterwards, he or she can pass along E. coli through food, surfaces, or hand-to-hand contact. Ingesting E. coli bacteria will cause severe diarrhea for approximately a week. This will also result in dehydration, which is a great cause of concern in many less fortunate countries and communities.

Fatal Bacteria

It’s not being dramatic to say that improper hand washing can actually have fatal consequences.  In certain circumstances (usually to do with health care facilities, long term care centers, or in situations that involve medical procedures) bacteria may be introduced from unwashed hands into the bloodstream, causing a severe systemic infection that could be fatal. Washing hands really does save lives.

Holistic health isn’t a complicated matter, but it does require common sense. If we’re making well-balanced, nutritional choices, exercising regularly, ensuring optimal vitamin, mineral and essential fatty acid intake – and then choosing not to practice proper hand washing procedures – then we’re still miss an important step in achieving optimal health and well-being. Take the time to wash your hands thoroughly and encourage others to do the same. Don’t be shy in encouraging health care practitioners, food handlers, the children in your life – or anyone for that matter – to wash their hands and protect not only themselves, but those around them.

This entry was posted in: Awareness, Blog, Health.
Page 5 of 11« First...34567...10...Last »