Uncharted waters: The spill and human health

Fisherman George Jackson fell ill in May while working to clean up the oil spill for BP. Now he’s waiting for approval from his doctor to get back to work.

“My eyes started burning and I started getting dizzy, dizziness and nausea,” he said.

According to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, more than 100 people have complained about health problems they believe were caused by the oil spill.

“The headaches, the dizziness, the shortness of breath … these are common symptoms we would see around dispersants, common symptoms we would see around the burning of crude or any hydrocarbon for that matter,” said Damon Dietrich, a doctor at the West Jefferson Medical Center in Louisiana where seven clean up workers were decontaminated in a hazmat unit before being admitted to the ER.

The health and safety of the more than 20,000 clean up workers is a growing concern, given the amount of oil and the length of time workers are exposed to it. Fresh crude oil contains volatile organic compounds, some of which are known to cause cancer.

How serious are the short- and long-term health risks for clean-up workers? How should they be protected? And who is ultimately in charge of their safety?

Need to Know correspondent Dr. Emily Senay talks to BP, leading scientists and Louisiana state health officials to find answers.

But with little hard science about the long-term health effects on spill workers – and dispersants used in unprecedented quantities – there are more questions than answers.

 
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Comments

  • marcy crimmins

    End of the Road was an excellent story.

  • Ed Santoro

    Need to Know is irrelevant fluff. Al Jazeera and other foreign news sources run circles around you.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4itfAVq19U&feature=player_embedded#!

  • doris nassiry

    Your program is so excellent…just one ‘faux pas’, which was when the female interviewer (sorry,I didn’t get her name) seemed to mis-reference the Natural Resources Defense Council as “National” Resources Defense Council. Now that Ms. Bienecke has become a newly-appointed member of the Task Force investigating/researching the Gulf gusher, I hope you’ll continue to interview NRDC spokespeople and will correct the inadvertent mis-pronunciation. Many thanks for your inspiring work.

  • WingMann

    To the genius who wrote the article: It’s “UnCHARTED” waters, not “UnCHARTERED”.

  • Brianna – Need to Know

    WingMann — Thanks for the tip; the typo’s been fixed.

  • http://theruthlesstruth.com/wordpress/2010/06/23/steve-quayles-world-its-a-blast-32/ Steve Quayle’s World: It’s a Blast! | The Ruthless Truth blog

    [...] Unchartered Waters: The Spill and Human Health [...]

  • acwolff

    Eatting fish has become a dangerous gamble. the amount of toxicity is irrelevent, if it’s a poison
    it’l make you sick. fresh water fish now have high levels of mecury, and
    the toxic chemistry of the Ocean makes seafood a lottery bet, some might be
    safe, other fish not so.
    i believe time will prove this correct. and we maybe looking at a very serious problem.
    if a study where done on longlevity and health for those who have a high consumation of fish
    (gulf, and other waters) we’d find there is a signifigant impact.
    it is time for a long study to see if we have finally crossed the point of extreme danger.
    unless warned many people will assume it is not a problem.

  • mickey

    One must really wonder what the final report will look like since the Task Force committee is staffed with 100% pro-environmentalist/anti-big oil. I bet I could write the report today and save the taxpayer a few million. What ever happened to honest investigative work such as we had when the Challenger blew up?

  • http://blazinbecky.blogspot.com/2010/07/uncharted-waters-gulf-oil-spill-human.html Becky The Minx’s Blog!: Uncharted waters The Gulf Oil Spill Human Health

    [...] to Know talks to BP, leading scientists and Louisiana state health officials to find answers.Source:http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/environment/unchartered-waters-the-spill-and-human-health/1604/ Publicado por Becky en 03:02 Etiquetas: bp, gulf oil, health risks, [...]

  • http://wealthonhealth.com/2010/07/01/uncharted-waters-the-gulf-oil-spill-human-health/ Uncharted waters: The Gulf Oil Spill & Human Health | Wealth On Health

    [...] How serious are the short- and long-term health risks for clean-up workers? Need to Know talks to BP, leading scientists and Louisiana state health officials to find answers. … Read ahead [...]

  • http://generationgreen.org/?p=1740 BP Oil Spill Wreaks Havoc on Public Health | Generation Green

    [...] Though the Center for Disease Control and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health are conducting studies on the health effects, their findings will not be released soon enough to help those who have already been exposed.    meanwhile, BP and some government officials delay efforts to put stronger medical care and preventative measure… [...]

  • http://gulfoil.umrscblogs.org/?p=347 BP Oil Spill Wreaks Havoc on Public Health (Generation Green Blog, 7/19/10)

    [...] Though the Center for Disease Control and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health are conducting studies on the health effects, their findings will not be released soon enough to help those who have already been exposed.    meanwhile, BP and some government officials delay efforts to put stronger medical care and preventative measure… [...]

  • http://s172355.gridserver.com/bp-oil-spill-wreaks-havoc-on-public-health/ BP Oil Spill Wreaks Havoc on Public Health | Center for Environmental HealthCenter for Environmental Health

    [...] Though the Center for Disease Control and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health are conducting studies on the health effects, their findings will not be released soon enough to help those who have already been exposed.    meanwhile, BP and some government officials delay efforts to put stronger medical care and preventative measure… [...]