The Disaster Information Management Research Center, part of the National Library of Medicine, has assembled information about oil spills and health from a number of federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, PubMed, TOXLINE and many others.
Those pages may provide some useful resources for reporters covering the Deepwater Horizon disaster, as some people on the Gulf Coast are questioning the health effects of the oil spill and the dispersants being used to help clean it up.
Reporters have been looking at the known effects and offering advice on how to stay safe. Mike Stobbe, an Associated Press reporter and AHCJ board member, reports that the CDC and EPA have not set up a system for tracking health complaints related to the spill, but that states have. The Times-Picayune‘s John Pope took a look at health complaints collected by Louisiana’s department of health.
Brian Winter, of USA Today, took a different angle, reporting that Alaska residents suffered significant mental health consequences after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill and so Louisiana officials have deployed crisis counselors.
And one AP photographer thought immersion journalism was the way to go – literally. Rich Matthews jumped off a boat 40 miles from shore to get video of the oil and wrote about the experience and about trying to clean off enough of the oil that the captain would let him back on the boat.