Friday, July 30, 2010

Gulf leak may be stopped, but experts still identifying unknowns, working to minimize toxic health effects, UAB researcher says

While oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill may have stopped gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, health experts are far from finished with this issue.One UAB School of Public Health researcher is actively involved in helping the federal government deal with repercussions from the April 20 accident.
“This already is an unprecedented tragedy,” she says. “We need to move quickly to monitor and study the physical and psychological impacts in the short term and long term among clean-up workers, volunteers and in adults and children, and we need to follow these with long-term studies.” While some of the short-term health effects are known – watery and irritated eyes, skin itching and redness, coughing and shortness or breath or wheezing – there also are many unknown health effects, says Sathiakumar, who has researched a prior oil spill. Even tourists, beach-goers and seafood lovers will face some risks going forward, she says. The CDC is reviewing the sampling of data to determine whether exposure to oil, oil constituents and/or dispersants might cause short-term or long-term health effects.

By Troy Goodman

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