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NIH Gulf Study Looking for 55,000 Oil Spill Workers for Long-Term Research

By Rhonda Miller | Published 20 Jan 2012 07:47pm | comments

The National Institutes of Health is looking for 55,000 people to take part in a long-term study on the possible health effects of the BP oil spill. MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports 1,300 people in Mississippi have signed up

Construction worker Chris Landry of D’Iberville is one of 1,300 people in the state taking part in the Gulf Study being done by the National Institutes of Health.  Landry says his health has been deteriorating since he stepped on an oil-covered nail during the clean-up in Gulfport .

"It went from bronchitis to upper respiratory infection and running 104 fever and nothing would break it, and my kidneys started hurting, then the cramps in the stomach came, then the headaches, seizures, stuttering real bad," says Landry.

Gulfport fisherman T.J. Hinton worked on the oil spill clean-up and says he’s not having health problems, but he thinks it’s important to be part of the study. 

"They sent a nurse out to my house and she spent about three hours, took my blood pressure, took a bunch of blood viles, urine sample," says Hinton. "I had to do a lung capacity test. I had to blow into this tube, and I had to exhale as hard as I could for 12 seconds, which is a lot harder than it sounds."

The Gulf Study includes anyone who worked during the oil spill clean-up - on a boat, on the beach or even delivering food to clean-up workers. Mississippi Public Health Officer Dr. Mary Currier says the state department of health is helping NIH contact oil spill workers.

"The oil itself, as far as we know, is really not that toxic, so as long as you wash it off, if you’ve gotten it on yourself and you don’t  ingest it, it shouldn't have those have kind of effects," says Currier. "But that’s why the study is being done, is to find out if it does have those kinds of effects."

NIH has $34 million for the first five years of he study. The project is expected to continue for at least 10 years. 

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