The oil spill is first a health risk to the personnel deployed to work on clean up and recovery efforts. The oil and the dispersants give off toxic fumes.
The entire workshop is viewable on-line for the Institute of Medicine’s workshop, Assessing the Human Health Effects of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: An Institute of Medicine Workshop in New Orleans, LA.
It is packed full of information about possible health effects of the spill on surrounding populations.
Information on human health effects related to oil spills is hard to come by. Of the 30 major oil spills since the 1960’s, only 1/4 of them have been studied for toxic effects on humans. Most of the studies have been vague with limited results.
Factors to consider in human health will be: the health of the food chain in effected areas (animal intake of oil will be very high), the destruction of the coastline and thus potential oil pollution of fresh water sources inland, and any chronic health effects from continual exposure in badly effected areas.
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