JAMA: Oil Spill Has Direct Effect on Health of Workers, Residents and Seafood

Just days after President Obama swam in waters off the coast of Florida and tasted fish from the Gulf, the Journal of the American Medical Association published an online report detailing the affects of the Gulf oil spill on workers, tourists/residents and seafood in Florida.

The report, published August 16, 2010, states that the “oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico poses direct threats to human health from inhalation or dermal contact with the oil and dispersant chemicals, and indirect threats to seafood safety and mental health.” This statement is a strong position to take, given BP’s consistent denial of any known health risks posed by the oil spill.

The report also states: “Physicians should be familiar with the health effects from oil spills to appropriately advise, diagnose, and treat patients who live and work along the Gulf Coast…” To date, more than 300 people (75 percent of whom were cleanup workers) were treated for symptoms related to the oil spill. Complaints included headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, coughing, respiratory infections and chest pain.

Acute exposure to the oil and dispersant chemicals is to blame for these symptoms, according to the report. Further, prolonged exposure may also lead to long-term effects in the seafood we consume, such as high levels of toxic contaminants such as lead, mercury and cadmium.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also currently testing air quality in Florida and other Gulf states to produce statistics regarding the effect of the spill above water as well. If you’ve worked in the cleanup effort and have been having health problems, contact a personal injury lawyer in Florida immediately to find out your rights.