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Saturday September 20th 2014

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Oil Spill Health Study Comes to Town


Following the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, researchers of various stripes have been studying the disaster’s possible impacts. What did the spill do to the environment? What did the spill do to the Gulf region’s economics?

And, what did the oil spill do to us?

Next week, researchers from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) will be in town to speak with the community about the Gulf Long term Follow-up Study (shortened to a confusing acronym: GuLF STUDY). The study’s purpose is to research potential health impacts of the 2010 oil spill on clean-up workers and coastal residents.

The GuLF STUDY group made a couple of tours of the Gulf Coast last fall. They held community meetings in Mississippi and Alabama and Louisiana. Residents attending those meetings complained of various ailments following the spill.

Some people said they had been doused with dispersants while working to clean-up the spill and described dramatic health problems—ranging from headaches and nausea to respritory issues and blood in their stool. Others reported more vague symptoms, such as a general lack of energy.

Dr. Dale Sandler, chief of the NIEHS’s Epidemiology Branch, is heading up the study.
“We want to document what people are experiencing now,” she told a group in Biloxi in November, “but what we feel is really important is seeing what might happen in the future.”

The GuLF STUDY group will be in Pensacola Jan. 18. The study is partially funded by BP. For more information, visit nihgulfstudy.org.