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Deadline for Oil Spill Workers and Volunteers to Enroll in Health Study is Dec. 31

By Rhonda Miller | Published 02 Oct 2012 10:29pm | comments
Shirley Tillman of Pass Christian worked in the Vessels of Opportunity program during the 2010 BP oil spill.

The National Institutes of Health is putting out a final call for BP oil spill clean-up workers to take part in a long-term health study.  MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports, so far, only 12 percent of those in the study are from Mississippi.

The Gulf Study being done by the National Institutes of Health has identified 150,000 workers and volunteers who helped in the clean-up of the 2010 BP oil spill.

Lead researcher Dale Sandler said in a telephone press conference Tuesday, the study originally hoped to have 55,000 participants, but that’s been lowered to 40,000. 

"We’re studying a wide range of physical and mental health problems, like breathing problems, some skin conditions, high blood pressure, and even cancer, as well as mental health concerns, such as depression, stress and anxiety."

Sitting on her back porch in Pass Christian, Shirley Tillman says since she worked on the Vessels of Opportunity oil spill clean-up, she’s had problems with a blood vessel bursting in her eye, headaches, and recurring sinus and respiratory flare-ups. Tillman says she’s gotten several phone calls urging her to enroll in The Gulf Study.  And she’s refused.

"I just have no faith in any of this. It's just like the necropsies on the turtles and the dolphins, that are secret. You know, what good has that done anybody? So, why waste my time?"

Tillman has no health insurance. The Gulf Study will refer participants to free or low-cost medical services, but health care is not part of the program. Tillman says several of her grandchildren, and many friends and neighbors, have been sick since the oil spill.

"I would just like to see medical treatment for ‘em,  instead of, you go to a doctor’s office and you tell him, 'I'm sick because of the oil spill,' and they look at you like you’re reporting an alien abduction or something."

Roberta Avila, director of The STEPS Coalition, a non-profit community group, says it’s important to take part in The Gulf Study, even if health care is not immediate.

"In order to get the kind of specialized help to address these concerns, we have to be able to identify what the problems are and what people are experiencing."

Information on the project is online at Deadline to enroll is December 31.   

Rhonda Miller. MPB News. Biloxi.




Shirley Tillman of Pass Christian worked in the Vessels of Opportunity program during the 2010 BP oil spill.



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