Doctors, public health leaders, and scientists from nine universities from across the Gulf Coast have formed a consortium to collect health data now and possibly for decades to come, in order to monitor and evaluate the potential long-term health concerns of the oil spill. The consortium, headed by Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Sciences Center and Texas A&M Health Science Center, was recently featured in a news video clip with commentary by several faculty at the LSU School of Public Health and Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health.

“We are concerned. One, there’s been exposures of workers in some coastal communities. There are some questions about food. The best way to address this in our opinion is replace politics with science,” said Dr. Scott Lillibridge, a family medicine doctor and professor in the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health.

“We know the communities we live in, the communities we eat the food in. We’re not going to disappear after it’s over,” said Dr. Ed Trapido of the LSU School of Public Health, who is the coordinator of all the Gulf oil spill research for LSU Health Sciences Center.

Studies are already underway, and there are complaints from workers, such as headaches, dizziness, asthma made worse, an increase in alcohol and drugs to cope with stress.

“In occupational settings when people are exposed to these chemicals, they do develop cancer. We know that people have been exposed to these chemicals,” Dr. Trapido said.

Another concern is the 2-butoxyethanol in dispersants.”It has not been officially classified as a human carcinogen; however, it is an animal carcinogen and can cause cancers in animals,” said Dr. Jim Diaz, a professor of public health and preventive medicine and program head of environmental and occupational health sciences at LSU.

For more information, see the video and article here.

— Rae Lynn Mitchell