NIH to study health after spill

The National Institutes of Health is planning a $10 million study to track the long-term health effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. Image: National Oceanographic andAtmospheric AdministrationIn a conference call with reporters, public health practitioners, and members of the Gulf Coast community, linkurl:Dale Sandler,;http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/labs/epi/chronic/index.cfm an epidemiologist at the National Institute of Environmental Health Scien

By | August 18, 2010

The National Institutes of Health is planning a $10 million study to track the long-term health effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.
Image: National Oceanographic and
Atmospheric Administration
In a conference call with reporters, public health practitioners, and members of the Gulf Coast community, linkurl:Dale Sandler,;http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/labs/epi/chronic/index.cfm an epidemiologist at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), said that the sweeping research project will prospectively track the health of about 50,000 adult workers and volunteers who contributed to cleaning up the oil spill. The study will include pulmonary and neurological function tests, mental health monitoring, DNA damage analyses, immunological assessments, and other screens. The scope of the effort to track the health impacts of one of history's largest oil spills is unprecedented. Sandler, chief of NIEHS's Chronic Disease Epidemiology Group and principal investigator on what's being tentatively called the "Gulf Worker Study," noted that of the 38 "supertanker" oil spills that have soiled oceans and seas around the world in the last 50 years, only 8 have been studied for their long-term health effects on adjacent populations. And most of these included only cross-sectional snapshots of effected persons, as opposed to the long-term, longitudinal study NIEHS is proposing. Sandler also said that NIH head Francis Collins personally tasked her and a team of NIEHS colleagues and outside consultants with designing the study as quickly as possible. Recruitment for the study is set to start in October and is to last 6-9 months. Direct monitoring of the health effects of the oil and the chemicals used to disperse it will continue for several years, and Sandler said that some funding will be available to provide care to participants at immediate risk of health problems related to their work on the spill. Click linkurl:here;http://www.niehs.nih.gov/about/od/programs/docs/gulf-study-concept-8-13-2010.pdf for more information on the draft study plan. __Update (18th August) - __The Scientist__ spoke with Dale Sandler shortly after this story was posted, and she said that additional extramural grant funding will be made available in the near future to researchers or consortia wishing to contribute to the Gulf Workers Study. Proposals, which can outline plans to work directly with the study cohort or not, will be peer reviewed by NIH reviewers. As for how much money will go into this pool of new grant funding, Sandler replied: "We don't know how much that's going to be, but we will know soon." She added that the NIEHS will also be reviewing proposals for contract work associated with recruiting participants for the study.__ **__Related stories:__***linkurl:Opinion: The oil's stain on science;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/57610/
[5th August 2010]*linkurl:Opinion: Louisiana shuns science;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/57609/
[5th August 2010]*linkurl:Gulf scientists "on the sidelines";http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/57504/
[23rd June 2010]*linkurl:New NSF grants for oil spill;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/57441/
[19th May 2010]
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