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Federal researchers seek oil-spill workers to study health effects

Everyone in Louisiana remembers the oil spill that devastated Louisiana's beaches, wildlife and fishing industries last year. After an explosion on a BP oil well that sent endless gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico finally came to an end, questions started to arise about what kind of medical and health effects would oil exposure have on the people of Louisiana. Now, federal researchers from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences are looking for people who helped clean up the oil and see if their medical conditions are related to or caused by the oil.

Many of the people directly affected by the oil spill are worried about toxic exposure and the increasing health concerns they developed after coming in contact with crude oil. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, there are many people living near the Gulf who developed constant respiratory infections and new breathing problems or a deterioration of chronic breathing problems. Some workers also have compromised immune systems, neurological symptoms, liver damage, skin rashes and an increase in stress.

Although local doctors and some of the federal researchers are confident that these illnesses and conditions are related to the oil spill, the goal of the federal researchers is to create a concrete causal link between the chemical exposure and the conditions. Because people who worked with the oil during the clean-up process would have had the most exposure to the contaminants, the researchers plan on studying their medical conditions.

Many of the people who developed illnesses after the Gulf oil spill are in need of money to pay for their extensive health care needs. When an individual is exposed to chemicals or toxins, he or she has the ability to seek compensation from the person or company that let loose the chemicals. No one who is innocently exposed to dangerous chemicals should have to suffer a financial burden on top of any medical condition.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, "Oil-spill workers sought for study," Nov. 8, 2011

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