According to a press release sent by the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH), it is believed that 334 people have been made ill or have suffered injuries due to the oil spill and its clean up efforts. Of those sickened, 221 were working on oil rigs or were involved in the clean up efforts. The remaining 84 are members of the general public. Of the workers, 17 required hospitalization.
In its recent Oil Spill Surveillance Summary report, the DHH indicated that the most common complaints included exposure to odors/fumes, skin contact with contaminated water or objects, heat stress and lacerations/fractures associated with the clean-up and containment efforts. The illnesses and injuries were reported to hospital emergency departments, outpatient clinics, physicians’ offices and Poison Center. These cases were monitored by the DHH’s Office of Public Health and Section on Environmental Epidemiology & Toxicology. The most frequently reported symptoms were headache, dizziness, neaseau, vomiting, weakness/fatigue and upper respiratory irration.
While it looks the the devastating oil leak will finally be stopped permanently, residents of the Gulf Coast are just now starting to see the long-term effects associated with this environmental disaster. It is troubling to see the effects of the oil spill on our coast, waters, wildlife, human health and way of life. We will continue to follow this story, so stay tuned.