BP gives $10 million to National Institutes of Health to study health effects of oil spill


BP announced today it will provide $10 million to the National Institutes of Health to fund a study of the public health repercussions of the Gulf oil spill. The study will be conducted by BP’s Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, established by the company to understand the environmental and health effects of the spill.

According to BP, the funds are intended to support public agencies and Gulf Coast academic institutions in their research on the potential acute and long-term health impacts of exposures to oil and chemical dispersants. The NIH will govern the distribution of the funds among those agencies and institutions to ensure coordination of efforts.

BP also said that data, measurements, and findings from studies it funds through the NIH would be made “fully and openly available.”

Public health was identified as one of the Gulf region’s major research priorities at a workshop commissioned by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and conducted by the Institute of Medicine.

The $10 million is part of an ongoing pledge BP made in late May to provide up to $500 million for independent research into the spill’s impact.

Recipients of its first round of funding in early June included LSU, the Florida Institute of Oceanography under the University of South Florida, and the Northern Gulf Institute, led by Mississippi State University. Those institutions received between $5 and $10 million for environmental research. BP has said that future funding under the $500 million pledge will be determined in consultation with Gulf state governors’ offices.

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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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