Is it possible to correlate biomarkers or health effects with available exposure data for airborne hazards for clean-up workers?

Panelists replied that it may be possible but that most data are not being collected in a manner that allows for that type of correlation. Specifically, Matte replied that he was not aware of any available data with enough variability for potentially existing correlations to be measured. Time-activity information (e.g., number of days worked on tasks) may be more variable but is not currently being fully captured. Goldman stated that biological monitoring would have to be done concurrently with the environmental monitoring, otherwise it will be difficult to make those sort of correlations.

Were biological samples collected in the 9/11 studies?

Matte replied that there was a biological monitoring study on a small sample of responders a few weeks after 9/11 and that, since then, there have been many attempts to study exposure biomarkers. A key challenge with the Gulf oil disaster is that many of the same toxins associated with the disaster are also found in everyday situations (e.g., when people fill their vehicles or walk down a street amidst diesel exhaust), which makes it very difficult to differentiate disaster-related biomarkers from everyday-related biomarkers.

What authoritative, web-based resources does the panel suggest for the public to access Gulf oil-spill-related information?

Matte said that, although the richness of available data will “gradually get better” over time, there is already “pretty good” information online at several federal agency websites (e.g., the CDC, the EPA, OSHA, National Library of Medicine). The EPA, for example, provides not only an overview of the environmental monitoring being done but also provides actual data in real time. Goldman agreed that the availability of environmental monitoring data in real time is unprecedented and very helpful. She added that the state health departments are also providing information on their websites that is very relevant to particular geographic areas and local issues.

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