While no significant differences were noted in the WBC counts of the two groups, the study did find that platelet counts were notably decreased in the oil spill exposed group. Also, BUN and creatinine levels were substantially lower in the exposed group, while hemoglobin and hematocrit levels were increased compared to the unexposed subjects. Furthermore, considered indicators of hepatic damage, the serum ALP, AST, and ALT levels in the exposed subjects were also elevated, suggesting that the exposed group may be at a higher risk for developing blood-related disorders.
"Phosphatases, amino transferases, and dehydrogenases play critical roles in biological processes. These enzymes are involved in detoxification, metabolism, and biosynthesis of energetic macromolecules that are important for different essential functions," says lead investigator G. Kesava Reddy. "Alterations in the levels of these enzymes result in biochemical impairment and lesions in the tissue and cellular function."
Participants also reported somatic symptoms, with headache reported most frequently, followed by shortness of breath, skin rash, cough, dizzy spells, fatigue, painful joints, night sweats, and chest pain. "The health complaints reported by those involved in oil cleanup operations are consistent with the previously reported studies on major oil spills. However, the prevalence of symptoms appears to be higher in the present study compared with the earlier findings of other investigators," added Dr. Reddy.
The investigators acknowledge that the lack of pre-disaster health data on the subjects involved in the study is the greatest limiting factor; however, the data collected have shown significant health effects on the cleanup workers.
|Contact: Jane Grochowski|
Elsevier Health Sciences