by Imogen Reed
The worry is the potential long-term health effects on public health of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill which only time will tell. It’s like playing a waiting game to see what health problems appear in the future, it can’t be pleasant. Scientists fear that prolonged exposure to the oil as well as to the more than 3,640,000 litres of chemical dispersants sprayed on the slick will cause health problems to the workers and volunteers who helped clean up the Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill.
Prolonged exposure to the oil in the form of tiny airborne particles as well as dispersants could have wreaked devastating damage on health of those thousands of people. The worry is that at the moment they could be ‘silent’, not causing any symptoms, but heath problems may appear in the future.
Not much research into the long-term health effects of oil spills has been carried out in the passed and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is the largest. The question is whether the workers should have been given protective respirators to protect their health just in case. Why should their health have been put at risk? At the time locals were reported to be falling ill after exposure to tiny airborne particles of crude which included severe headaches, nausea and respiratory problems. The long-term effects could be far more serious and even life threatening but only time will tell. Long-term effects could be neurological ailments and cancers, which can take years to appear. For those who helped out it can be like living with a time bomb believing that a serious health problem will occur.
A health study has already been launched for workers and volunteers who helped clean up the Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill. The GuLF STUDY (or Gulf Long Term Follow-Up Study) says it is a health study for individuals who helped with the oil spill clean up, took training, signed up to work, or were sent to the Gulf to help in some way after the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) is leading this research which is one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and part of the U.S. Government.
The NIH is sponsoring the study
It aims to enroll 55,000 workers who helped clean up the oil spill to learn how different aspects of oil clean up may affect health, says the study. The GuLF STUDY it says is designed to learn about potential health effects and potentially health hazards from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and perhaps answer some of the questions that matter to oil spill clean-up workers and their community.
The only comfort to those workers is that they can prevent people suffering in the future, as the study should provide answers as to what are the health risks and how future generations can take protective precautions against them. The study it says will compare the health of clean-up workers and others who did not take part to learn if health problems are more common in workers.
All participants who live in the GuLF will be invited to have a clinical home visit which will include a health interview, collection of blood and other samples, and clinical measurements like blood pressure and lung function testing.
“We will give people in the study the results of these screening tests and help them find a doctor or clinic if they don’t have one,” it promises.
Participants have been promised a $50 gift card and those who have the home visit will also be asked to complete short questionnaires every 2 years. The questionnaires will ask about changes in health over time and some people in the GuLF STUDY will be invited to be in a part of the study that includes additional medical tests.
Who is taking part?
Those who are at least 21 years old will be able to take part and “who did oil spill clean-up work for at least 1 day; or who were not directly involved in oil spill cleanup but who worked near the oil spill or completed some oil spill worker training.”
What are they being asked to do?
They are being asked or will be asked if they haven’t already volunteered, to complete a telephone interview about your oil spill clean-up activities, health, and lifestyle. They will also be followed up with medical tests over time.
It is hoped the study will provide workers and communities with information on how oil spills affect physical and mental health. It will also create a resource for future research.
Lets hope the study looks after these brave people who did their best to minimize the damage of the devastating Gulf of Mexico oil spill, they weren’t taking part in their hobbies at the time such as American real money poker.