Navigation Links
Prolonged respiratory problems for oil spill clean-up volunteers
Date:9/14/2007

Workers and volunteers who helped in the clean-up effort after the 2002 Prestige oil spill off the Galician coast of Spain exhibit prolonged respiratory symptoms resulting from their exposure, say researchers from Spain in the first study to examine the long-term effects of such exposures on workers respiratory health.

The findings were reported in the second issue for September of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.

In November 2002, the oil taker Prestige sank off the northwestern coast of Spain, spilling about 67,000 tons of oil that contaminated more than 1,000 kilometers of coastline. More than 100,000 workers and volunteers participated in the clean-up effort. During the first few weeks, clean-up work was done mainly by local fishermen and their families. That initial period was characterized by an improvisational approach and a lack of personal protective equipment, according to the study.

Between January 2004 and February 2005, more than two years after the initial disaster, the researchers administered a questionnaire to determine the long-term implications of the clean-up participation on the population of local fishermen who were most directly affected by the disaster. The questionnaire, which could be self-administered or completed through a telephone interview, assessed the fishermens respiratory problems, use of medication for respiratory problems, and their beliefs and level of anxiety and about the health effects of the spill.

Roughly one-third of the nearly 7,000 respondents were women, who were primarily engaged in shellfish farming. Most of the respondents more than half of the women, and two-thirds of the men had directly participated in the clean-up efforts for at least one day, most during the first seven weeks of the spill.

Prevalence rates of lower and upper respiratory tract symptoms were significantly higher in fishermen who had participated in clean-up activities, wrote Francisco Pozo-Rodriguez, M.D., lead investigator of the study.

Overall, the researchers said, clean-up workers were 1.7 times more likely than others to experience lower respiratory tract symptoms. Men who participated in clean-up were twice as likely as those who didnt to have experienced chronic cough or phlegm or asthma in the past year; female clean-up workers were 1.7 times more likely than others to chronic phlegm, and 1.6 times as likely to experience nasal symptoms. Excluding workers who reported anxiety or who believed that their health was adversely affected by the spill, the researchers found that the differences in respiratory symptoms decreased slightly but remained significant.

Importantly, they found that the increased prevalence of upper- and lower-respiratory tract symptoms persisted for more than a year following the last clean-up activity, but while still significant when more than 20 months had elapsed, rates did show eventual decline, suggesting that the damage may be in part reversible.

There was no association between performing clean-up work and having diagnosed respiratory conditions, such as asthma, leading the investigators to speculate that warnings from health authorities may have discouraged people with known respiratory conditions from participating in the clean up. This self-selection among clean-up participants, the so-called healthy worker effect, may have led to an underestimation of the risk estimates, wrote Dr. Pozo-Rodriguez.

To our knowledge, no previous study has explored long-term respiratory effects in clean-up workers of other oil spills. Our findings suggest that participation in clean-up work of oil spills may result in prolonged adverse respiratory health effects 1-2 years after exposure, he continued. Increasing awareness of the potential chronic respiratory effects among clean up workers of future oil spills, in combination with appropriate hygiene regulations, is strongly recommended.

The cross-sectional design of the study and possible recall bias of the questionnaires respondents leaves the question of reversibility question an open line of inquiry. To address this possibility, the investigators identified a cohort of prospective subjects to follow for further evaluation of the time-dependent nature of the effects.


'/>"/>

Contact: Suzy Martin
smartin@thoracic.org
212-315-8631
American Thoracic Society
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. New engineered drug may offer prolonged arthritis relief
2. Quantum dots provide a faster, more sensitive method for detecting respiratory viral infections
3. Study identifies risk factors for spread of respiratory infections in hospitals
4. Long-term marijuana smoking leads to respiratory complaints
5. HIV Patients May Be at Risk of Heart Problems When Taking Protease Inhibitor Drugs
6. Deficiency of growth hormone and IGF-1 reduces cancer and kidney disease, but creates other problems
7. Antibiotic might fight HIV-induced neurological problems
8. Rats infected as newborns grew up vulnerable to memory problems during an immune challenge
9. Use of Insecticides Linked to Lasting Neurological Problems for Farmers
10. Storing carbon to combat global warming may cause other environmental problems, study suggests
11. Scientists and engineers apply natures design to human problems
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/15/2016)... -- Research and Markets has announced the ...  report to their offering.  ,      ... gait biometrics market is expected to grow at ... Gait analysis generates multiple variables such ... compute factors that are not or cannot be ...
(Date:3/31/2016)... , March 31, 2016  Genomics firm Nabsys ... founding CEO, Barrett Bready , M.D., who returned ... of the original technical leadership team, including Chief Technology ... of Product Development, Steve Nurnberg and Vice President of ... to the company. Dr. Bready served as ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... PROVO and SANDY, ... Screening Ontario (NSO), which operates the highest sample volume ... testing, and Tute Genomics and UNIConnect, leaders in clinical ... today announced the launch of a project to establish ... testing panel. NSO has been contracted ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... June 27, 2016   Ginkgo Bioworks , a ... engineering, was today awarded as one of the ... the world,s most innovative companies. Ginkgo Bioworks is ... the real world in the nutrition, health and ... directly with customers including Fortune 500 companies to ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... Researchers at ... most commonly-identified miRNAs in people with peritoneal or pleural mesothelioma. Their findings are the ... read it now. , Diagnostic biomarkers are signposts in the blood, lung fluid ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... TORONTO , June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - ... Ontario biotechnology company, Propellon ... the development and commercialization of a portfolio of ... cancers. Epigenetic targets such as WDR5 represent an ... contribute significantly in precision medicine for cancer patients. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... SANTA MONICA, Calif. , June 23, 2016  The Prostate Cancer ... to pioneer increasingly precise treatments and faster cures for prostate cancer. Members of ... 77 institutions across 15 countries. Read More About the ... ... ...
Breaking Biology Technology: