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Federal Health Study of Gulf Oil Spill Started Too Slowly, Expert Tells AAAS Forum
A major study of worker health in the aftermath of the Gulf oil blowout got underway months later than desirable and may be limited as a result, a public health specialist told the AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy.
Dr. Bernard D. Goldstein, interim director of the Center for Healthy Environments and Communities at the University of Pittsburgh, said the federal government was unprepared to quickly mount studies of the possible long-term health effects of the 20 April 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill.
A National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) study of more than 50,000 cleanup workers was not funded until six months after the blowout and researchers did not get into the field until January, Goldstein said. As a result, data on worker exposure to various chemicals will be hard to come by, he said, as will definitive answers about any oil-associated ailments among the workers.
Goldstein spoke during the 36th annual Forum, the premiere Washington gathering for those interested in the intersection of science and policy. The 5-6 May event was attended by some 475 U.S. and foreign leaders from government, education and business.
To learn more about the aftermath of the Gulf spill, read the full story.