General and Vulnerable Populations in Affected Areas

A number of comments noted the risk to the general population in affected areas and expressed concern that changing weather events could increase the number of people directly exposed to the oil and contaminants related to the oil response.

A number of comments cited particularly vulnerable populations, including women, children, persons with disabilities and preexisting conditions, fishermen and -women, low-income and medically under-served populations, disabled persons, and residents affected by previous disasters, including recent floods. A few comments specifically addressed mental health research. One comment cited an article by Kessler that found a correlation between five or more stress factors and an increased risk of serious emotional disturbance. Additionally, one comment suggested that mental health professionals may also be vulnerable to adverse health outcomes.

Exposure

Contaminants and Contaminated Sources

A number of participants stated that exposure to all contaminants related to the oil spill and response activities were of concern. Specifically, public comments mentioned heavy metals and dispersants, and questioned whether the chemicals in the oil were yet known.

A couple of comments referenced oil in ocean sediment, one noting that oil on the ocean floor is the result of multiple spills and leaks over time. Another comment explained the potential for changing weather patterns to expand the scope of the problem from local to regional.

In addition to more familiar sources of exposure to contaminants, one person suggested that experts consider how the use of desalinization plants could affect exposure rates.



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