Tag Archives: Deepwater Horizon

Resources for reporting on health and the oil spill

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

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.

Oil washes in on Pensacola Beach, Fla., on June 4, 2010. (Photo: R. Scot Duncan, Ph.D.)
Oil washes in on Pensacola Beach, Fla., on June 4, 2010. (Photo: R. Scot Duncan, Ph.D.)

The Department of Health and Human Services also has a page devoted to its health response to the spill. It includes links to oil-spill related pages for Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

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.