lance system (e.g., biospecimen banking and monitoring the onset of new emotional or behavior symptoms).

Short-Term Physical Effects

Nalini Sathiakumar, University of Alabama, Birmingham


The Gulf oil spill and its related response efforts pose various hazards to individuals, which can increase the risk of adverse health outcomes, including acute toxicity and physical injuries. Although data are limited, there is consistent evidence that exposure to oil and related response activities are associated with short-term health effects. Nalini Sathiakumar began with an overview of potentially hazardous chemicals and conditions related to the Gulf oil spill. Among these are exposures to volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polyacylic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), heavy metals, and dispersants. In addition, there are physical hazards associated with noise levels, sun exposure, heat stress, injuries, and ergonomic stressors.

Studies of the Effects of Previous Oil Spills on Physical Health

Much of the information about the short-term physical effects of exposure comes from studies of seven supertanker oil spills since the 1960s (Aguilera et al., 2010). Sathiakumar summarized the results of studies for each of the oil spills, except the Exxon Valdez studies (which are covered later in the chapter in relation to Lawrence Palinkas’s presentation). Most of these studies were cross-sectional and investigated the short-term, physical effects of hazards stemming from the oil spills. The majority of these studies used standardized questionnaires to measure acute toxic symptoms and general health.


MV Braer (United Kingdom, 1993). Campbell and colleagues (1993) studied community residents using general health questionnaires to identify major, acute toxicity symptoms within the first 2 days of exposure following the oil spill. The researchers found evidence of neurological, ocular, and respiratory symptoms but no significant differences in lung, liver, or renal function between exposed and unexposed populations. In a follow-up study, Campbell and colleagues (1994) found that the general health questionnaire symptom score of exposed individuals was signifi-



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