The National Institutes of Health will launch a multi-year study this fall to look at the potential health effects from the oil spill in the Gulf region. The Gulf Worker Study, announced by NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., in June, is in response to the largest oil spill in U.S. history, caused by the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Dr. Collins pledged $10 million in NIH funding for the study's initial phases.
To help expedite the launch of the study, BP will contribute an additional $10 million to NIH for this and other important health research. The BP funding will come through the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GRI). The GRI is a ten-year, $500 million independent research program established by BP to better understand and mitigate the environmental and potential health effects of the Gulf spill. The NIH will have full autonomy regarding the distribution of the $10 million, with input from external scientific experts in environmental health and who are familiar with the Gulf region.
"It was clear to us that we need to begin immediately studying the health of the workers most directly involved in responding to this crisis," said Collins. "The donation from BP will help speed our work with CDC, EPA, and other federal agencies, academia, as well as state and local partners to carry out this important study." Collins asked the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the NIH, to lead the research project.
The study will focus on workers' exposure to oil and dispersant products, and potential health consequences such as respiratory, neurobehavioral, carcinogenic, and immunological conditions. The study is also expected to evaluate mental health concerns and other oil spill-related stressors such as job loss, family disruption, and financial uncertainties.
"Clean-up workers are likely to be the most heavily exposed of all populati
|Contact: Robin Mackar|
NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences