A Plume of Hope for Oil Spill Victims

NIH to study health impact of BP oil disaster

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Picking up the pieces for Gulf Coast residents has been no small feat. In early 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill leaked nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, possibly causing a public health crisis.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will fund a five year, $25.2 million program to evaluate the potentially harmful health effects of the disaster — commonly known as the BP oil spill. Investigators will examine whether the incident has impacted the cardiorespiratory system, reproduction and birth outcomes, and behavior and mental health of the general public.

"Talk to a doctor if your health was impacted by the BP oil spill."

Research partners, including universities, will conduct the study under the umbrella of NIH's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). They will consider potentially harmful contaminants in the water, air and seafood, evaluating possible immediate and long-term health effects on residents, tourists and other members of the public.

Gwen Collman, Ph.D., director of the NIEHS Division of Extramural Research and Training, said one of the main focuses would be on vulnerable populations such as expectant women, children, minorities, immigrants and fishermen.

In addition to sharing data and research results, each of the four institutions participating in the study will also begin a community resilience project, which will examine how locals respond to and recover from such disasters.

Researchers will use their partnership with local community organizations to determine how culture and social media might improve preparedness or recovery.

The program will include investigation by Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans, Tulane University in New Orleans, the University of Florida in Gainesville and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Universities will partner with more than a dozen community organizations, which will aid in researching health concerns from those residing in areas affected by the oil spill.

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Review Date: 
July 13, 2011
Last Updated:
July 17, 2011