Gulf Oil Spill Study on Worker Health

Oil Spill
TAMPA (2010-9-22) -

The BP oil spill not only affected the economy of much of the Gulf Coast, but also the health of the Gulf of Mexico. But what about the health of workers who had to clean up the mess? A new study is designed to look at just that.

Toxins from the Gulf oil spill most likely had some impact on the thousands of workers who not only took to the beaches with shovels, scooping up tar balls, but also on fishermen and oil workers.

Now, the federal government is undertaking one of the largest health studies ever done after an environmental disaster. They want to question as many as 80,000 people about their exposure to the oil and follow about one-third of them more closely for a long-term study. Francis Collins is director of the National Instutites of Health.

"It may now be acquiring less press attention, now that the well has been capped," says Collins, "but of course, the health effects remain undefined - and need to be defined."

Officials with the National Institutes of Health are meeting for two days in Tampa, trying to fine-tune the methods that will be used to study the impacts to people who were expossed.

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