162 cases of illness in Louisiana due to Oil Spill


BP oil spill has created a question mark on safety related to deep water drilling of oil rigs.  I have been thinking from many days that hurricane season has officially started and what if hurricane passes through the region near oil spill.  It may carry the oil and dump it on the coastal areas.  Alex, first hurricane of the season, is passing through Texas.  Although the center of Alex is miles away from oil spill region, never-the-less, the wide diameter of the hurricane is expected to push the oil towards coast of Louisiana. 

There is another concern with the oil spill that is health of the cleanup crew and other people working in the region of oil spill.  A report has been issued on 28th June by Louisiana state health department, which says that oil disaster exposure has resulted in 162 cases of illness.  The report revealed that 128 people out of 162 were workers on oil rigs or individuals involved in the oil spill cleanup efforts.  The report was made from gathering data on weekly basis from a surveillance network of doctors, clinics, emergency care locations and medical facilities.

What is the major illness reported by oil spill cleanup workers?
The most common reported symptoms were throat irritation, shortness of breath, cough, eye irritation, nausea and headaches. 

What is the demographic of affected people?
According to the report workers involved in the oil spill, 120 were male and 8 females.  Report also included cases from general public and revealed that 9 were male and 25 were female.  Most of the people reported with illness were ages between 18 to 64, which is a wide range.

Has there been constant rise in cases of illness?
The report says that in first week of June, 38 cases of illness were reported.  A sharp decrease to six illnesses was seen in the week of June 20th.  Report does not give a reason for this decrease, but I was surprised by the decrease as number of workers involved in cleanup work has...

increased during the course of time.

What was the main cause of illness?
It is reported that several workers fell ill due to exposure to fumes from the dispersants being deployed in the Gulf.  As far as I remember, these dispersants were deployed to break down the oil and there was resistance regarding use of dispersants as it could affect health of people and marine life.

Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Alan Levine asked Monday that BP should pay $10 million to fund six months of mental health services to people affected by the spill.  Alan wrote to BP COO Doug Suttles that “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,”

It looks like that cases of anxiety, depression, stress, grief, excessive drinking, earlier drinking and suicidal ideation is increasing in the area of oil spill and these people need help and counseling.  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.”

Louisiana suffered from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and was reviving from the devastation and loss occurred five years ago.  Now this oil spill has affected the sea food industry, a major source of income for people in coastal region, in a significant way.  I hope BP understands its responsibility and takes appropriate measures to address the reported illness and mental health issue.

2 Responses

  1. patrick drummond says:

    this is a hurricane that keeps makeing land fall everyday. i live in gulf shores and this whole area depends on the beach. not just people in the seafood industry. before tourisim there was only farming. i am an electrician and can’t find a job. i hope bp does the right thing. patrick

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