As early as May 9 it was announced that FEMA evacuation protocol for forest fires in and around Tampa, Florida could be activated at a moment's notice in the event of the oil slick approaching Florida's coastline. One proposal is to undergo a 'controlled burn' of surface oil in the Gulf to prevent the oil reaching Florida's coast. This would result in highly toxic fumes blowing ashore. In fact, toxic fumes have already been reported elsewhere as Gulf residents complain of breathing difficulties and nausea:
Oil is semi-volatile, which means that it can evaporate into the air and create a heavy vapor that stays near the ground -- in the human breathing zone. When winds whip up oily sea water, the spray contains tiny droplets -- basically a fume -- of oil, which are small enough to be inhaled deep into the lungs. We know that's happening in the Gulf Coast, because people are reporting a heavy oily smell in the air. Already my colleagues in Louisiana are reporting that people in the coastal community of Venice, Louisiana are suffering from nausea, vomiting, headaches, and difficulty breathing.
The following eyewitness account came to our attention yesterday:
Making this quick, don't feel well. About 4:15pm or so eastern, coming back from Tampa, Florida north on Veteran's Expressway...about 7 miles perhaps from SR 54...it sprinkled some gray watery and solid black oil on my car. Thought it was bugs, but so fast did not make sense and windshield wipers just smeared it. Got out of car at store and looked on the paint and solid black dots on my car...I touch? huh? it's wet? it's OIL!!!!!
I had several folks verify it before I sprayed it off and it came off easier than the few love bugs. Two hours later still wet like OIL! nope, not water, smell it, OIL!!!