NIH will study health of Gulf oil disaster cleanup workers
March 1st, 2011
02:22 PM ET

NIH will study health of Gulf oil disaster cleanup workers

The National Institutes of Health is looking for 55,000 people, who helped in the cleanup efforts following  the Deepwater Horizon oil disasterin the Gulf of Mexico nearly a year ago.  Researchers will study how being exposed to the oil and the chemicals used to remove the oil may have affected the health of workers and volunteers.

They're calling it the GuLF Study, which stands for "Gulf Long-term Follow-up Study." Researchers will be contacting people Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Starting with several lists of workers and volunteers, researchers will be contacting potential participants by mail, by sending out letters of invitation to participate in the trial.  People can also volunteer themselves by calling 1-855-NIH-GULF (1-855-644-4853). Then, when 55,000 participants have been found, the first part of the trial involves a phone interview, which includes questions about the work they did in the aftermath of the disaster.  Of those, 20,000 will also be asked to participate in the second phase of the study, which involves home visits, taking various samples including blood and urine, as well as measuring blood pressure and lung function.

According to the NIH press statement, of the 40 known oil spills in the past 50 years, the health effects have been studied from only eight of those spills. "The goal of the GuLF Study is to help us learn if oil spills and exposure to crude oil and dispersants affect physical and mental health," said the study's lead investigator, Dale Sandler, Ph.D.

August 16th, 2010
03:41 PM ET

BP to fund mental health programs in the Gulf

BP announced Monday that it will provide $52 million to fund mental health programs across the Gulf Coast.

The announcement comes after BP was criticized for not responding to the mental health needs of people affected by the oil that began gushing  from the company's rig the Deepwater Horizon in April.

"As part of our determination to make things right for the people of the region, we are providing this assistance now to help make sure individuals who need help know where to turn," said Lamar McKay, president of BP America in a press release.  FULL POST

August 16th, 2010
11:04 AM ET

Journal: Doctors should watch for long-term Gulf illnesses

Doctors need to be on the lookout for a wide range of illnesses related to the Gulf oil spill, ranging from cancers to skin rashes, according to an editorial in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association.

“Clinicians should be aware of toxicity from exposures to oil and related chemicals” and ask patients where they live and whether they’ve been exposed on the job, the JAMA commentary said.


July 28th, 2010
12:58 PM ET

Report tallies oil disaster's effect on beaches

The Gulf oil disaster has already caused at least 2,239 days of beach closing, advisories, and notices in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, according to a report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

One-fifth of monitored beaches in the Gulf have been subject to closure or advisories because of the spill, the non-profit environmental group reported.


July 23rd, 2010
04:31 PM ET

Gulf residents report anxiety, sleeplessness

Nearly 60 percent of coastal Louisiana residents in a phone survey indicated that they were constantly worried about the Gulf Coast oil disaster.

More than eight out of 10 respondents reported worrying about their family, friends and community's survival to the complications caused by the environmental disaster, according to sociology researchers from Louisiana State University. FULL POST

July 23rd, 2010
04:05 PM ET

Lautenberg bill aims to boost dispersant safety

More  information is needed to determine the safety of the chemicals being used to help contain spilled oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, says Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey. He announced plans at a recent hearing  to introduce a bill to ensure longer-term testing of the chemicals, known as dispersants.

The bill, expected to be introduced early next week, would require dispersants to be tested for health effects under a variety of conditions, ban the use of non-approved dispersants and require chemical ingredients in dispersants to be made public.


July 8th, 2010
05:11 PM ET

What is being done to alleviate stress in the Gulf?

As a feature of CNNHealth.com, our team of expert doctors answers readers' questions. Here's a question for Dr. Gupta.

From Tinley Park, Illinois

"Can you address problems of depression and hopelessness of many unemployed workers in the Gulf? What is being done to help these people cope?"


July 8th, 2010
12:09 PM ET

CDC tracks health in Gulf, finds no trends yet

Surveillance data tracking illnesses and injuries related to the Gulf Coast oil disaster do not indicate any trends that require further public health investigation at this time, according to a web page established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC works with state and local health departments from the five affected Gulf states to monitor public health. It uses two national surveillance systems to track symptoms related to the eyes, skin, respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and neurological systems, including worsening of asthma, cough, chest pain, eye irritation, nausea, and headache. FULL POST

July 2nd, 2010
05:12 PM ET

Oil spill workers getting masks

More than 70 days into the gulf oil spill some workers are getting special breathing apparatuses.

The Deepwater Horizon Response Unified Command, which includes BP and government agencies, announced Thursday teams working at the well site, and workers conducting controlled burns of the oil are being given respirators.


June 28th, 2010
04:54 PM ET

State wants BP to fund mental health services

On Monday, Louisiana's Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Alan Levine requested $10 million from BP to provide mental health services to Louisiana residents affected by the oil spill.  The request comes after an Alabama fisherman committed suicide Wednesday.

In a letter to BP's Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles, Levine said, "There exists anger, anxiety and uncertainty among the families and communities affected by the spill, which will easily manifest into addiction and various forms of mental health crisis if not confronted."  Levine also says almost 2,000 people have undergone counseling by state crisis teams.  He says there are reports of a range of behaviors from anxiety to excessive drinking to thoughts of suicide.

Levine says the $10 million dollars will support six months of continued outreach activities by Louisiana's DHH's Louisiana Spirit outreach teams and local mental health programs.

BP press officer Tom Mueller says they received a request for funding and that BP is " is discussing the request with several stakeholder groups to better understand their plans and strategy."

   older posts »
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.