U.S. Coast Guard members who were exposed to oil while responding to the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe were twice as likely to experience headaches and dizziness as those who were not, according to a new study by researchers with the Uniformed Services University, a health science university in Maryland that is run by the federal government.
And those who were exposed to dispersants as well as oil were significantly more likely to report acute neurological symptoms than those who were exposed only to the oil, said Jennifer Rusiecki, one of the study's authors and a professor in the university's department of preventive medicine and biostatistics.
Previous studies have examined lung and skin irritation in relationship to exposure to oil and dispersants. But the new study provides a glimpse of acute neurological effects stemming from exposure to the oil and dispersants.
The study will be published in the journal Environment International in October, but is available online now.
In addition to local fishers and coastal residents, more than 8,500 U.S. Coast Guard personnel were deployed to help aid in the cleanup after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion led to the largest marine oil spill in U.S. history.
They provided support in placing containment booms, skimming oil from the water's surface, cleaning up beaches, decontaminating equipment, administrative work and a variety of other tasks.