As the oil spill from the leaking Deepwater Horizon oil rig continues to spread across the Gulf of Mexico, many fishermen who find themselves out of work are being paid to help with the cleanup effort. But, new concerns are arising about the health risks of breathing in oil fumes day after day. Families living in the Gulf region are also worried about the long-term effects that the leaking oil could have on their children's health.
Doctors and experts have traveled to the Gulf from as far away as New York City to address citizens' concerns and answer as many health questions as they can. The challenge, however, is that no one is sure what the long-term health effects of the oil will be. Some experts believe the oil will have little to no effect on peoples' health, while others are more worried that it could cause chronic conditions like respiratory illness or even cancer.
To find out, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has launched the most extensive monitoring system of oil spill workers ever designed. So far, more than 14,000 cleanup workers have volunteered to be part of the study.
"My biggest fear is, 10 years from now, is my child going to be in a wheelchair, mentally able to sit and speak and hold a conversation because of this?" - Gulf area resident
"If we don't have no way to make any money, what are we going to do to pay our bills? Tomorrow, we might have no money to pay our bills. We have kids. People have small kids and families." - Acy Cooper, vice president, Louisiana Shrimper Association
"The experience that we have had with dealing with so many other disasters prepares us to some extent, but not maybe as well as we would like for what to expect in either the short- or long-term health consequences." - Dr. Nicole Lurie, assistant secretary for preparedness and response, Department of Health and Human Services
1. What do humans use oil for?
2. What does oil do to wildlife? Why can't fishermen in the Gulf continue their jobs?
3. How are oil spills generally cleaned up? What kinds of techniques and equipment do cleanup workers use?
1. According to the video, what are some of the challenges that people in Lower Plaquemines Parish face when trying to get adequate health care? Do people in your area face any of those challenges?
2. According to the video, why did many cleanup workers refuse to speak with NewsHour reporters? What would you have done?
3. If you and your family lived near the Gulf of Mexico, what would you do to address health concerns associated with the oil spill?
4. Why is it so hard for doctors and experts to know what the health effects of oil exposure will be?
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