Oil-Spill Workers Sought for Heath Effect Study

Federal researchers will be in Terrebonne Parish on Wednesday, looking for cleanup workers willing to participate in a $17.8 million study of long-term health effects from last year's Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

They want to interview more than 50,000 cleanup workers in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, and have enrolled 5,000 since February. About 20,000 will be chosen for an in-home interview and periodic follow-ups over at least five years.

Researchers will also conduct some basic health tests on lung capacity and blood sugar. Study participants will be referred to doctors as needed.

The Gulf Long-term Followup study will focus on workers' exposure to chemicals, track illnesses and examine lifestyle and seafood consumption.

Common post-spill ailments include breathing problems, repeated respiratory infections or worsening of chronic illnesses like asthma. Other reported problems include long-lasting skin rashes, stress, impaired liver function and immune systems and neurological symptoms.

"We're still hearing from individuals who are sick and believe it's linked to the oil spill, but we need more evidence," she said. "If we get the data we can say without any kind of hesitation that the people who did this oil-spill work or had more active exposure are the ones getting sick."

A meeting open to interested workers will start at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Ward 7 Citizens Club, 5006 La. 56, Chauvin. To sign up for the study, or to get more information call 1-855-NIH-GULF or visit the GuLF study website at http://www.niehs.nih.gov/GuLFSTUDY.

To read the full article click here:  http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9QSLN0O0.htm

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