Assessing the Effects of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill on Human Health - Workshop Summary


Note: Proceedings contain the opinion of the presenters, but do NOT reflect the conclusions of the Health and Medicine Division or the National Academies. Learn more about the differences between Reports and Proceedings.

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded, causing an oil leak one mile beneath the ocean's surface. The explosion killed 11 workers and unleashed one of the largest offshore oil spills in history. The oil well was plugged in mid-July, but the effects of the spill on the short- and long-term health of individuals—including workers, volunteers, residents and visitors—remain uncertain.  

At the request of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the IOM convened a public workshop June 22-23 to begin planning for the surveillance of the Gulf oil spill's effects on human health. Speakers explored the potential adverse health effects for at-risk populations living in the Gulf region or assisting with clean-up activities. Participants also discussed current monitoring activities, the types of research methods and data sources currently available, and options to consider when developing short- and long-term surveillance plans. Additionally, participants considered effective ways to communicate potential health risks to the public and to engage them in research on the spill's effects. This document summarizes the workshop.

Presentations from the meeting as well as full video and transcripts are available online.