Gulf oil spill workers sought for health study - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Gulf oil spill workers sought for health study

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is making another push to get people who worked on the BP/Deepwater Horizon oil disaster cleanup to enroll in a long-term health study.

Dr. Dale Sandler, chief of the agency's epidemiology branch, said Tuesday that more than 29,000 people have enrolled so far. But, she says, the goal is to get 35,000 to 40,000 people signed up before enrollment in the study ends Dec. 31. The Advocate reports enrollment started March 2011.

The study looks at how the oil leak cleanup work affects the physical and mental health of people who participated.

"It's important to put out there that participation in the gulf study is completely confidential," Sandler said.

Participants first do a phone interview with the study team and then there is a follow-up home health visit during which a second interview is conducted and basic medical tests, such as blood pressure and blood samples, are taken, Sandler said. Those who go through those steps get a $50 gift card for their time and receive information about their health, she said.

Sandler expects some preliminary results that can be shared with communities along the Gulf of Mexico coast by the middle of next year.

The study is the largest health study of its kind focused on cleanup workers and volunteers, according to the agency. "It's really important that we include as many different types of workers as possible and in large numbers," she said.

One underrepresented group, so far, she said are people who worked on the oil rigs.

Sandler said the next goal in the study will be to do 20,000 home health examinations by late April. Some 8,000 home examinations have been completed and another 7,000 have been scheduled, she said.

Eligible persons must be at least 21 years old, did oil spill cleanup work for at least one day, completed oil spill worker training but didn't do cleanup or had a supporting role in the cleanup.

People interested in participating can call toll-free 855-644-4853 or visit the study's website at http://www.gulfstudy.nih.gov

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Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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