Sunday, February 27, 2011

Health Toll of the BP Oil Spill

Studying the health toll of the BP oil spill: An editorial

MICHAEL DeMOCKER / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE: With oil rigs and pelicans behind them, workmen scoop globs of oil from the sand on the beach in Port Fourchon June 1, 2010.

February 27, 2011 - The BP oil spill was singular not only for its gargantuan size, but also because it happened along a coast where millions of people live and work. That meant thousands of Gulf residents, especially those involved in cleanup efforts, were exposed to the oil and to the chemical dispersants used to fight the spill.

Many of those residents have asked themselves whether that exposure may one day affect their health. A new and significant study is designed to help provide answers -- and that's an important development.

A division of the National Institutes of Health is preparing to launch what researchers are calling a potentially ground-breaking study on the health effects of the disaster. The researchers plan to interview 55,000 Gulf Coast residents with varying levels of direct exposure to the oil and dispersants. The idea then is to track the health of roughly half of those individuals over the next decade to draw possible causes and effects. {continued}

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