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NIH Study to Research Health Effects of BP Oil Spill

BP Deepwater Horizon Rig Fire (USCG)

(U.S. Coast Guard, Courtesy X Prize Foundation)

A network of researchers funded by NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) will evaluate potential harmful effects of the Deepwater Horizon disaster on reproduction and birth outcomes, the cardiorespiratory system, and behavior and mental health. University and community participants will study the level of potentially harmful contaminants in air, water, and seafood, and assess their relationship to health outcomes.

Institutions taking part in the five-year, $25.2 million project include Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, Tulane University in New Orleans, University of Florida in Gainesville, and University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. The universities are expected to partner with more than a dozen community organizations to take local concerns into account and more effectively communicate their research findings.

In addition to sharing research results, each of the four institutions will implement a community resilience project to better understand how local populations respond to and recover from disasters. Researchers will assess how culture, social networks, and other determinants may enhance pre-event preparedness and post-event recovery.

This study of acute and long-term health effects to the general public is a companion to NIEHS’s Gulf Long-term Follow-up (GuLF) Study that focused on on the oil spill cleanup workers and volunteers. The GuLF Study is expected to last up to 10 years and evaluate the health of 55,000 people.

NIH says of the $25.2 million in total funding for the new study, $3.2 million was provided by BP specifically for research on the health of Gulf area communities following the oil spill. BP, however, is not involved in the program or any of the research.

Read more: BP Offers $10 Million to NIH for Gulf Health Research

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