Back to Human Health Implications


It may not be earning as much mainstream media attention as Tony Hayward’s recreational calendar, but in many Gulf Coast communities focus is turning –– with increasing concern –– to human health concerns. I noted weeks ago that people were getting sick from the oil, and the air stunk along the Mississippi River like an old Sterno can, but now that the numbers of sick have risen into the hundreds, we have to wonder what the long-term effects are on cleanup workers and the public at large. Obviously, the responders are of primary concern due to their ongoing exposure to the oil and the fact that they’re working without protective gear like respirators.

Some survivors of the Exxon Valdez spill, which was of course much smaller, offer stories of long-term illness and premature death they believe are tied directly to oil spill exposure. We’ll be focusing on human health issues, but this HuffPo piece by enviornmental activist Ricki Ott is a good place to start:

Ott was minding her own business in Alaska, fishing commercially, when the Valdez gave her another use for that degree in marine biology. She is now a Ph.D., with a degree in marine toxicology. He’s written a couple of books on the oil spill aftermath and has founded several non-profits focused on oil spill issues.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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