NEWSOil Spill Puts Women’s Health in Peril? (7/8/2011)
July 8, 2011 5:45 AM
Dr. Maureen Lichtveld of the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine will lead a five-year study to explore the potential health impacts of the Deepwater Horizon disaster on pregnant women and women of reproductive age living in Louisiana’s coastal parishes. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has awarded a $6.5 million grant for the study.
This is the first long-term study to examine the effects of a major oil spill on pregnant women and women’s health, says Lichtveld, Freeport McMoRan Chair of Environmental Policy.
“Pregnant women are always a population of concern when there are environmental exposures, as the developing fetus may be vulnerable to even small doses of contaminants,” Lichtveld says. “To our knowledge, this is also the first study to examine maternal stress and anxiety related to a major oil spill and the associated effects on birth outcomes, fetal health and family-planning behavior.”
The grant creates the Transdisciplinary Research Consortium for Gulf Resilience on Women’s Health at Tulane. The consortium will quantify potential exposure levels among women to environmental contaminants via seafood consumption and air emissions; study how disasters affect reproduction decisions; and explore how environmental and social disparities affect women’s health and pregnancies.
The study covers Jefferson, Lafourche, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard and Terrebonne parishes. The consortium will partner with community groups to conduct its research.
“The entire research consortium is centered around community-based participatory research,” Lichtveld says. “Our communities will help design the studies, are active partners in implementing the studies, and will play a leadership role in translating and disseminating the study results. This assures that we make science work for our communities.”
The consortium will work with Mary Queen of Vietnam Community Development Corp., Bayou Interfaith Sharing Community Organizing and Women Infant and Children (WIC) clinics in the affected parishes to conduct the study.
The University of West Florida recently hosted 11 local high school students and nine teachers for the Summer 2016 Emerging Scholars Environmental Health Sciences Program. The program was supported by a grant to Tulane's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine from the Gulf Region Health Outreach Program, which is funded from the Deepwater Horizon Medical Benefits Class Action Settlement. Read more details here.Congratulations to the 2016 Emerging Scholars! (8/18/2016)
Nine students from public high schools in southeast Louisiana participated in Tulane's Emerging Scholars Environmental Health Sciences Academy in summer 2016. Each student was assigned a mentor and faculty advisor to facilitate their completion of an environmental health science research project. The students also participated in six environmental health science field experiences to: Turtle Cove ERS, NASA, Chevron Oronite, Port Fouchon, Harvey Gulf Marine, and New Orleans Mosquito, Termite and Rodent Control Board. The scholars were honored at an awards ceremony and poster session held at Tulane's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, where they received an award of $2000 for their successful completion of the program. The scademy is supported by a grant from the Gulf Region Health Outreach Program, which is funded from the Deepwater Horizon Medical Benefits Class Action Settlement.Deepwater Horizon Research Consortia Wrap Up Projects (4/11/2016)
At the final meeting of the Deepwater Horizon Research Consortia March 7-8 in Mobile, Alabama, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) grantees discussed research findings, including mental health impacts, factors contributing to community resilience, and the safety of locally caught seafood. Read more about it here: http://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/newsletter/2016/4/community-impact/deepwater/index.htm.Emerging Scholars Participate in Toxicology Conference (3/18/2016)
Four students from the 2015 Tulane Emerging Scholars Environmental Health Sciences Academy participated in the 2016 Society of Toxicology Conference held in New Orleans. Hana Alkhafaf, Teyonn Ennis, Jessica Ding, and Siddesh Ponnapakkam presented posters on research they each conducted as part of the academy. They did an exceptional job explaining their projects to toxicologists from across the USA and around the world. Tulane's Global Environmental Health Sciences faculty and staff, and the Emerging Scholars EHS Academy applaud them for their great work!Emerging Scholar Presents Research at Scientific Conference (2/11/2016)
2015 Emerging Scholar Jonathan Cuccia participated in a poster session at the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference in Tampa, Florida in early February. He presented his research project with the support and mentorship of Dr. Charles Miller, Tulane Professor of Environmental Health Sciences. Jonathan's poster was entitled The Relative Potency of Methylated Chrysenes in Aryl Hydrocarbon (AhR) Activation. Jonathan did an excellent presentation and the Emerging Scholars Environmental Health Sciences Academy, Tulane faculty/staff, Chalmette High School faculty/staff, and his parents applaud him for his work!GoMRI Funds Research on Oil Spill (11/24/2015)
An award of $1.5 million from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) will fund research headed by Tulane toxicologist and Center faculty member Charles Miller. Miller’s team seeks to identify the most toxic compounds in fresh and aged crude oil that leaked from the Macondo well. “We hope to better understand the environmental and human health risks of oil by identifying these specific toxic chemicals, their relative amounts and how long they persist in the environment,” says Miller. Two other Tulane researchers also received grants from GoMRI to study oil's effect on the Gulf.NAS Grant Awarded to Center (10/1/2015)
The Gulf Research Program at the National Academy of Sciences awarded the Center a one year grant to develop core competencies in environmental health and disaster management for the middle-skilled nursing, oil production, and marine operations workforces in SE Louisiana. The project, led in partnership with Fletcher Technical Community College, will develop educational products that other organizations can adapt and use.CHW Placement Subcontracts Awarded (9/1/2015)
As part of the Environmental Health Capacity and Literacy Project, the Center issued two year subcontracts for community health worker (CHW) employment to 17 community-based organizations and federally qualified health centers along the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi. Applications were evaluated on background and significance, project design, evaluation plan, key personnel, and organizational capacity. The Center's annual CHW meeting was held in September 2015 for the awardees. Placed CHWs and supervisors discussed collaborative leadership, invoicing and reporting, the Affordable Care Act, how to build and maintain supervisory relationships, and program planning and evaluation.Fussy Baby Program Makes the Headlines! (8/27/2015)
NEW ORLEANS - It's supposed to be the happiest day of your life, the day you bring home a new baby. But doctors say some people can have a tough time adjusting. And in some cases, post pregnancy hormones can severely change behavior. Now a free program can help.
Jen Fultz is enjoying being Flynn's mom. but she remembers many months ago, when her daughter was an infant and things were tough.
"I felt kind of isolated even though I had good friends. It's hard to explain. It just kind of turned me on my head," said Fultz who works at ZukaBaby on Magazine Street.
Her husband, deep into nursing school, suggested she call the Tulane F.U.S.S.Y. Baby Program.
A group of professionals in psychiatry and infant mental health experts, help any caretakers, free.
"Typically, on average, we do maybe four home visits. Some parents need us longer. Some parents just need a phone call or two," explained Dr. Sherryl Scott Heller, Director of the F.U.S.S.Y. Baby Program, and an Associate Professor of Psychiatry in the Tulane School of Medicine.
Too often we hear of shaken babies, permanently brain-damaged, or who die at the hands of a caretaker who could not cope. And some neurologists in Baton Rouge say they have seen an increase. F.U.S.S.Y. Baby can help.
"It decreases parental depression and anxiety, which is a risk factor for shaken baby. It increases parental competence and it enhances the parent child relationship," said Dr. Heller.
One in five babies cry, or are fussy, for no known reason. All their needs are met. They're not tired, hungry, and their diapers don't need to be changed. Other times it's one of the many sad consequences of an expectant mother who used drugs.
"One of the things that they worry about these babies who have been substance abused, they tend to have a little more difficulty regulating. They tend to be fussy. They tend to be more easily stimulated," said Dr. Heller.
But for Jen, it was completely different. Her difficulty with breast feeding lead to her own anxiety.
"I thought all this was supposed to come naturally to me and it really wasn't, so that made me feel like I was kind of failing in that aspect," said Fultz.
But her F.U.S.S.Y. Baby expert turned things around.
"The struggle is normal. And so if you're feeling sad or anxious or feeling just like you're going to tear your hair out because you haven't slept, that it's not you. This is early parenting," said Dr. Anna Breuer, a Tulane Infant Mental Health Specialist.
If you'd like help with parenting a fussy baby, call the warm line at 1-855-371-BABY.Congratulations to the 2015 Emerging Scholars! (8/3/2015)
Eight students completed the 2015 Emerging Scholars Environmental Health Sciences Academy. The scholars participated in field experiences and completed an independent research project. The academy culminated with an exceptional research poster session and graduation ceremony. Congrats!Have a Question about Dispersants Used during the Oil Spill? (7/22/2015)
Do you have questions about dispersants that were used during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill cleanup? The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) has created a list of FAQs on dispersants using information that is known to date. Additional research is needed and is being conducted to explore exactly how dispersants work in various settings, and at various depths of water. Many of these questions and answers are related to the 2010 oil spill, but much of the information is relevant to dispersants that might be used in any oil spill.Maureen Lichtveld to Chair AJPH Editorial Board (7/15/2015)
Dr. Maureen Lichtveld, Freeport McMoRan Chair for Environmental Health Policy and chair of the Department of Global Environmental Health Sciences at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, has been appointed chair of the editorial board of the American Journal of Public Health for a three-year term beginning in November of this year. The editorial board of the AJPH provides oversight for the journal and its editorial function; defines the long-range vision, strategic plan, and annual priorities for the journal; establishes policies and procedures for the journal and its board; and ensures the quality and integrity of the journal. The AJPH has been in publication for over 100 years and publishes original work in research, research methods, and evidence-based practice innovations in the field of public health.
Upon learning of her appointment, Lichtveld said, “AJPH is the signature journal in public health world-wide. Being appointed chair of the editorial board is a unique contribution to my global health research portfolio.”
“We are thrilled and also honored to learn of Maureen’s appointment as chair of the AJPH editorial board,” said Dr. Pierre Buekens, dean of the school. “I know she will provide the same high level of commitment that she always demonstrates in her leadership roles here at Tulane.”Community Health Worker RFP webinar now available (5/14/2015)
The Tulane Community Health Worker RFP webinar can be accessed by following the link below:
The power point version of the Community Health Worker RFP presentation can be viewed here.
Thank you to all who participated! We look forward to hearing from you in the future. As always, if you have any questions regarding the RFP or webinar, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Community Health Worker Program Request for Proposals (4/15/2015)
EHCLP seeks partnerships for projects that will employ community health workers or patient navigators to educate and connect disaster-prone communities with primary care services. Proposals are due June 1, 2015 from FQHCs and other nonprofit organizations operating in Gulf coast counties and parishes. A live technical webinar will be convened on May 6, 2015 and will be recorded and available for those who cannot attend in person. Full details of the request for proposals and the application materials are available below:2015 Delta Omega Eta Chapter Poster Contest (4/14/2015)
Thank you to all the participants in the 2015 Delta Omega Eta Chapter Poster Contest.
- First Prize: Genome-wide Analysis of Gene-Sodium Interactions on Blood Pressure, Changwei Li, MPH
- Second Prize: Heavy metals and organic contaminants in soils from urban farms and gardens in New Orleans, LA, Kyle Moller, MPH
- Third Prize: Assessment of Ethanol effects on Pulmonary Anti-microbial Peptide (Cathelicidin/LL-37) levels and Vitamin D Metabolism, Olakan Ogunsakin, MD, MPH
Visit the link below for photos and a list of all participants.NIH Still Active in Gulf Region Five Years After Oil Spill. Three-part research approach focuses on communities and health (4/13/2015)
NIH Still Active in Gulf Region Five Years After Oil Spill
Contact: Robin Mackar, NIEHS
Three-part research approach focuses on communities and health
Five years after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, researchers at the National Institutes of Health are actively working with Gulf region community partners, to learn if any human health problems resulted from the disaster and establish a new research response plan to be better prepared for future disasters.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of NIH, is leading a three-part research strategy. This includes conducting the largest oil spill health study ever, the Gulf Long-term Follow-up Study (GuLF STUDY), which is intended to evaluate the health of 33,000 cleanup workers for 10 years. Secondly, NIEHS is funding more than $25 million in research by Gulf area universities on the health of local residents, including pregnant women and children, and is also starting the NIH Disaster Research Response Project.
“Ever since the oil spill in 2010, we’ve been working to understand if the disaster caused health problems among Gulf Coast residents,” said Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., director of NIEHS. “Health research takes a long time, but we are making progress, thanks in large part to the continued and dedicated efforts of community partners.”
Preliminary results from the NIH-led GuLF STUDY are finding that oil spill cleanup workers reported increased physical symptoms, including cough and wheeze, and mental health symptoms, such as depression and anxiety, compared to nonworkers.
The research team analyzed thousands of exposure measurements taken at the time of the spill to develop a job-exposure matrix that will allow them to estimate exposures to oil-related chemicals for specific cleanup jobs done at different times and locations. By combining this exposure information with what cleanup workers reported during GuLF STUDY interviews, researchers are now able to characterize the oil spill exposures of the study participants. This is allowing them to assess the link between reported health symptoms and the chemicals each person was exposed to in their specific jobs.
“Starting with total hydrocarbons as a marker of oil exposure, we are beginning to see that levels of chemical exposure vary across jobs and differ with the time period of the spill,” said Dale Sandler, Ph.D., lead researcher for the GuLF STUDY. “We’re finding that while the levels of exposure are lower than what people would experience in occupational settings, such as manufacturing plants or refineries, there is quite a lot of variability depending on the tasks performed and the work location. Exposure levels were higher for those working closest to the spill and while the well was leaking. Many of the measurements taken on land were at or close to normal exposure levels. This should be good news for many in the Gulf community.”
The 33,000 GuLF STUDY volunteers completed an initial comprehensive telephone interview about their health status and history. Participants include adults ages 21 and over who helped with the oil spill cleanup, took training, signed up to work, or were sent to the Gulf to help in some way. Just over 11,000 study participants completed home visits for medical evaluations, and nearly 19,000 have completed a second phone interview. Additionally, as part of the research, 1,000 have received clinical exams from GuLF STUDY partners at the Health Sciences Centers at the University of South Alabama, Mobile, and Louisiana State University, New Orleans. The clinical research exams include lung function and nervous system tests, and screenings for diabetes and cholesterol. Researchers are hoping to conduct clinical exams for about 3,000 more volunteers, and complete phone interviews with the remainder of the study participants in the next year.
Gulf university-community partnerships
NIEHS has also taken the lead in funding the Deepwater Horizon Research Consortium. This consortium brings together four universities — Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans; Tulane University, New Orleans; University of Florida, Gainesville; and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston — working in partnership with about four dozen community organizations to conduct health research and communicate results.
These university-community partnerships are focused on conducting research to address health concerns specifically identified by the community following the oil spill, including pregnancy and birth outcomes, general physical and mental health of coastal resident, and seafood safety.
“The consortium exemplifies an equitable academic-community partnership and shows how community engagement can support research as well as address local needs,” said Claudia Thompson, Ph.D., head of the NIEHS Population Health Branch and lead of the consortium.
Some preliminary findings from researchers in the consortium and elsewhere indicate that a person’s social environment may have an impact on their ability to cope with disasters or negative health outcomes. For example, individuals who have strong social support systems, or networks of families, friends, and neighbors that can offer psychological, physical, and financial support tend to be more resilient and able to cope and adapt to multiple stressors in post-disaster situations. Researchers have also determined that the seafood in the Gulf is not contaminated by the oil spill — an important finding for food supply and economics of the region.
Lesson learned — establishing a disaster research response to collect vital health data
An important lesson learned from the Gulf oil spill and other recent disasters is that researchers need to be involved early in the response efforts to collect vital health information, including samples of air, water, and other materials and contaminants. They also need off-the-shelf customizable research tools if they are going to be able to move quickly to launch a research study that meets all guidelines for protecting the rights of study volunteers. As a result, NIEHS worked with the National Library of Medicine, also part of NIH, and other agencies to develop the NIH Disaster Research Response Project. Key elements of this project include publicly accessible field-tested data collection tools, research protocols, training materials and exercises, and development of a network of trained research responders (see http://dr2.nlm.nih.gov).
“As a nation, we need to be better prepared to start research as soon as a disaster strikes,” said Birnbaum. “We need to be able to get researchers safely on-site immediately, if we’re going to have the data we need to understand any impacts on people’s health and improve our ability to prevent illness and injuries in the future.
The Center's Community Health Workers have organized a series of events during National Public Health Week, April 6-10, 2015 in New Orleans, Harvey, and Port Sulphur, LA. Events cover healthy eating, women's cardiovascular health, breast and cervical cancer education, and general wellness. Please join us!Tulane Student Wins Award at APHA (11/26/2014)
Kyle Moller, a PhD candidate in the Environmental Health Sciences department at Tulane University, won second place for presenting his doctoral research during the environmental section student achievement poster session at the 142nd annual American Public Health Association conference. Moller, originally from Camas, Washington, studied soil analyses at local farms and gardens around New Orleans. He then compared the results to state regulatory levels for each given chemical. Moller states his latest research is a preliminary study, with a full scale study which is ongoing. The full scale study is hoping to analyze if there is a health risk due to consuming produce grown through urban agriculture. His poster was entitled: "Heavy metals and organic contaminants from soils in urban farms and gardens in New Orleans, LA."Tulane Study States Shrimp Are Safe to Eat (11/10/2014)
Shrimp safe after oil spill—Tulane study
November 7, 2014
Eating shrimp from an area of the Gulf of Mexico impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 poses no acute health risks or increased cancer risks, says a study by Tulane University scientists published in Environmental Health Perspectives. A team led by Mark Wilson, research assistant professor of Global Environmental Health Sciences in the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, analyzed shrimp for oil contaminants and surveyed Vietnamese-Americans working as commercial shrimpers in southeast Louisiana.
“Through communication with community liaisons we were able to conduct a tailored risk assessment within a ‘sensitive subpopulation’ that served to demonstrate the safety of shrimp harvested from the Gulf of Mexico and addressed concerns that were meaningful to the community as a whole,” says Wilson.
Community members directly involved in the seafood industry are likely among the heaviest consumers of seafood, say the researchers. The Mary Queen of Vietnam Community Development Corporation in New Orleans East provided a list of residents who received the survey, with questions including: how often do you eat shrimp? what is a typical portion size? and how are they prepared?; as well as basic demographic questions about gender, age, and weight. One hundred fifteen respondents completed the survey.
“We found that 81 percent of our survey respondents reduced the amount of shrimp they consumed for at least 5 months following the oil spill. Furthermore, 43 percent of our survey respondents reduced shrimp consumption for at least 12 months,” say the researchers.
When the spill occurred concerns were expressed that seafood would be contaminated with high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and pose health hazards including increased cancer risks for consumers.
However, shrimp collected and tested by the researchers were found to have very low levels of PAHs.
“The very low levels of PAHs detected in our cross-sectional sample of shrimp did not result in excess risk from dietary PAH exposure within our study population,” says Wilson.
This story can also be found on Nola.com: http://www.nola.com/environment/index.ssf/2014/10/safety_of_eating_louisiana_shr.html
Pregnant and non-pregnant women between the ages of 18-45 years living in Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes may be eligible to participate in a study on the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on pregnant women. If you would like to participate, contact Jayda Jones, Study Coordinator at 504-453-2290 or email@example.com.National Public Health Week Events, April 7-11, 2014 (3/26/2014)
The Center's Community Health Workers have organized a series of events during National Public Health Week, April 7-11, 2014 in New Orleans, Belle Chasse, and Thibodaux, LA. Events cover healthy eating, women's wellness, emergency preparedness, infant parenting, and domestic violence. Please join us!Benefits & Risks of Seafood Consumption Enduring Material (1/23/2014)
The Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics (AOEC), in collaboration with the Center for Gulf Coast Environmental Health Research, Leadership, and Strategic Initiatives, has received funding from the Gulf Region Health Outreach Program to develop educational materials related to health concerns in the Gulf Coast region. The first module, Benefits & Risks of Seafood Consumption Enduring Material, has received continuing medical education credits (CME) by Tulane University. It is available online at: http://www.gulfcoastenvironmentalhealth.com/cme-credits. The module was developed by members of the AOEC member clinic at the University of California San Francisco. The primary authors are Drs. Rachel Roisman and Robert Harrison and Elana Silver. Two additional modules on Reproductive Concerns and Respiratory Illness will be available in the near future.Maureen Lichtveld Honored (1/23/2014)
Center Director Maureen Lichtveld is one of 2013's Women of the Year. Women of the Year, sponsored by New Orleans City Business, recognizes 50 women from the area whose successes in business and contributions to the community have made them movers and shakers in the region. Honorees are innovative leaders who are making waves with their energy, ideas, achievements and commitment to excellence in the area.Community Health Worker and Patient Navigation Program Sub-Award Documents (7/17/2013)
Community Health Worker and Patient Navigation Program Sub-Award Documents
Thank you to all who attended the Webinar! The link to view the presentation is http://connect8.caeph.tulane.edu/p7ewzfu9d3d/. Additionally, here are the relevant documents to help you develop your submission.
The scope of work, budget and budget justification are due Friday, August 23rd and should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.Community Health Worker and Patient Navigation Program Sub-Award Informational Webinar (7/15/2013)
On Monday, July 15, 2013 at 10AM we will be hosting a webinar to provide information about sub-award scope of work submission to prospective applicants interested in embedding a community health worker and/or patient navigation program within their organizational setting. We will answer all questions at this time. Please complete the webinar registration form at this link. Power point slides with audio can be accessed through this link. Following the webinar, if you still have questions, contact Farah Arosemena @ email@example.com. Additionally, a Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers) document will be posted for future reference.$18.7 million funds oil spill-related health work (5/25/2012)
May 25, 2012 5:45 AM
The Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine has received $18.7 million for two major environmental health projects designed to help Gulf Coast residents affected by the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The Environmental Health Capacity and Literacy Project is a $15 million, five-year Tulane program included in the Gulf Region Health Outreach Program funded through BP’s settlement of class action medical claims.
Tulane environmental health faculty, in collaboration with the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics, will establish a network of environmental health experts to provide peer consultation and educational resources for primary care physicians in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.
The project also will strengthen community resilience, training health workers in environmental public health and disaster preparedness and establishing an emerging scholars program at area high schools.
“This project gives us the first comprehensive opportunity to build sustainable environmental health capacity benefitting our vulnerable communities,” says project director Dr. Maureen Lichtveld, Freeport McMoRan Chair of Environmental Policy at Tulane. “We will improve environmental health knowledge and skills at every level — from high school to graduate education, while connecting primary care providers with experts in environmental medicine."
The Baton Rouge Area Foundation also awarded Lichtveld a $3.7 million grant from its Fund for the Future of the Gulf for a three-year project to evaluate environmental health risks to seafood and Gulf Coast communities.
The goal is to collect baseline data about seafood consumption and environmental hazards for an accurate risk assessment should another environmental disaster occur. The program will also support training community leaders in environmental public health and disaster preparedness.
“Through the support of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, we are not only able to address key questions regarding local seafood safety along the Gulf Coast, but will also create a rapidly deployable community outreach, research and education program for residents when they most need it,” Lichtveld says.
July 2, 2010 5:45 AM
Scientists are moving quickly to evaluate public health risks from the ongoing oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, says environmental policy analyst Dr. Maureen Lichtveld, professor and chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences.
Lichtveld, Freeport McMoRan Chair of Environmental Policy at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, was one of the organizers of a workshop on health issues from the oil disaster. The session was held in New Orleans on June 22 and 23 by the Institute of Medicine.
Scientists and governmental officials who met, including Tulane alumna Dr. Regina Benjamin, U.S. Surgeon General, are developing a framework for action, Lichtveld said. They want to determine whether populations along the Gulf Coast are at risk of exposure and subsequent adverse health effects from volatile organic compounds through inhalation, ingestion or skin exposure.
The participants agreed on the urgency to establish baseline health information for medical surveillance of cleanup workers and for long-
term worker health monitoring. Significant data gaps exist, but future questions can be addressed if collection and banking of blood, urine and saliva is implemented now.
The workshop included an open-mike session with community members who voiced their concerns. Lichtveld said there are unique public health implications of the disaster stemming from historical health disparities among Gulf Coast residents — higher prevalence of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and cancer — that were exacerbated by Hurricane Katrina.
“The degree to which these factors influence the health risk [of the oil disaster] is what we don’t know yet,” Lichtveld said.
All of the scientists on the panels expressed concerns for psycho-social aspects including stress, depression, suicide, difficulty sleeping and family dysfunction, Lichtveld said.
“The health of the ecosystem is inextricably linked to the health of a population. The School of Public Health has a unique responsibility, and I take that seriously. We should accept nothing less than making science work for communities.”