NIH releases initial report on BP spill health effects - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

NIH releases initial report on BP spill health effects

Updated:
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

Nearly four years after the BP oil spill, some people who helped in the cleanup say they still suffer everything from respiratory problems to headaches and more.

Today, federal scientists revealed findings from their health impact study.

Thousands of people have complained of health problems since the worst oil spill in history, a spill that occurred 60 miles off the Gulf Coast.

Residents like Paul Doom told us in 2011, "I started getting bad headaches and had nosebleeds daily."

Four years ago, hundreds of Louisiana and Gulf Coast residents went to work for BP, cleaning up after a massive explosion that killed 11 people and spilled more than 200 million gallons of oil from the ruptured Macondo well for 87 days.

Now, the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences are out with early findings of a long-term study.

"While it does appear coughing and wheezing are common among workers, it will be many years before we know if the oil spill had an impact on developing chronic diseases like cancer," said Dr. Dale Sandler with the Institutes.

We interviewed some shrimpers in Bucktown who worked at or near the spill but didn't want to go on camera. One of them said he has been experiencing respiratory problems since the spill, and he said he can relate to some of the other issues highlighted by the study.

"The prevalence of depression is higher among those who live near the oil spill, and among those who do cleanup work," said Sandler.

The study director said it's too soon to tell if the depression was caused by the spill, or if it was caused by other factors such as catches of shrimp and crab that some shrimpers say were the worst ever after the spill.

"We're still working to characterize oil exposures, but it's too early to know if the frequency of depression is from exposure or from something else," Sandler said.

Nearly 33,000 people are now taking part in the federal study that could continue for 10 more years.

BP gave the NIH $10 million to conduct the study, part of BP's $500 million commitment for environmental and health research following the oil disaster.

BP issued a statement Friday saying it worked with OSHA and other agencies to provide proper training for oil spill workers. The oil giant also said it took more than 30,000 air samples and found that they were well within safety guidelines.

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