The BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which occurred in 2010, caused severe damage to the natural ecosystem of the Gulf Coast. It was the largest marine oil spill in the U.S., with over 200 million gallons of crude oil released into the sea. In addition, the spill also ruined the fishing industry and tourism. After the spill, residents on the Gulf Coast suffered increased anxiety and depression.
Many of the health effects of the BP Deepwater Horizon are still being studied. These include the physical and mental health of people who worked on the cleanup, children who grew up in the area, and other coastal residents. Some of the main symptoms are eye problems, skin rashes, breathing difficulties, and respiratory problems. However, many of the symptoms can be confusing to the general public. To determine if someone is suffering from an oil spill symptom, there are certain tests and procedures that can be used.
The Deepwater Horizon Research Consortium, which is comprised of several institutions including Louisiana State University, Tulane University, the University of Florida, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, is a five-year $25.2 million study on physical and mental health effects. According to the project’s co-director, Dr. Graham Worthy, it was the first to link specific chemicals in the oil to respiratory diseases.
One of the major findings from the study is that children who were exposed to the spill are at higher risk for health conditions. Researchers found that compared to children living in the community prior to the spill, those who grew up there after the spill were more likely to experience both physical and mental health issues. This is especially true for children who live in the coastal communities that have been affected by the spill.
The study also revealed that workers who worked on the spill are more likely to experience asthma and related symptoms. Specifically, 5% of the people who worked on the spill reported having asthma. Workers who operated heavy cleanup equipment had the highest rate of asthma. Other health symptoms reported by the study participants included shortness of breath, wheezing, and muscle cramps.
Children whose parents were directly exposed to the oil are more likely to experience health problems as well. About 30 percent of parents reported that their children had problems with mental health. Kids whose parents worked on the spill are three times more likely to have mental health issues than kids whose parents did not work on the spill.
Scientists also discovered that children whose parents worked on the spill were more likely to suffer from headaches and other physical ailments. These effects were more likely to be felt by kids whose families were poor, African American, or Hispanic. Those whose parents had a college degree were less likely to have these problems.
Finally, researchers noted that the oil spill had an impact on the fish. Several species of fish in the gulf suffered from the effect, with some species developing a lack of vision and other changes.