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CDC Responds to the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

June 11, 2010

UPDATE: This information is current as of June 11, 2010, 9:00 AM ET

CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recognize the importance of anticipating, monitoring and responding to any potential public health hazards that may affect human health. Currently, 168 CDC and ATSDR staff members are involved in the response, including 15 staff members who are deployed to Gulf Coast states. CDC is monitoring potential health threats or conditions across the five Gulf States that may arise as a result of human exposure to the oil spill. We are in constant communication with our state partners and have a standing commitment to quickly support and respond to any emerging health threats.

CDC, in coordination with state and local health departments, is conducting surveillance across the five Gulf States for health effects related to the oil spill using established national surveillance systems, including the National Poison Data System (NPDS) and BioSense. These systems are being used to monitor for respiratory, cardiovascular, ocular, dermal, gastrointestinal, and neurological symptoms, including asthma exacerbation, cough, chest pain, eye irritation, nausea, and headache. States and CDC are regularly sharing data and summaries with each other. A summary of state findings are posted on the CDC website.

CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is providing information to industry, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the U.S. Coast Guard, and other federal and state partners to protect workers and volunteers from potential safety and health hazards related to the spill and clean up efforts. NIOSH is also assisting OSHA and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) with technical assistance for training response workers.

NIOSH is collaborating with BP Safety and OSHA compliance personnel to coordinate the collection and analysis of injury and illness data being reported to OSHA by BP. NIOSH is also conducting a voluntary survey (roster) of workers who are participating in the response so to create a record and a mechanism to contact these workers about spill-related symptoms of illness or injury, as deemed necessary. More than 6,000 responders (BP-trained, volunteer, vessel of opportunity operators, and federal workers) have been rostered and efforts continue to increase this participation.

CDC’s Environmental Health Team continues to review environmental data packages from the Gulf of Mexico in coordination with the Environmental Protection Agency. CDC is reviewing the sampling of data to determine whether short term or long term health effects might be caused by exposure to oil, oil constituents, or dispersants. These data include sampling results for air, water, soil/sediment, and waste oil samples (material actually reaching the beach or marsh).

The levels of some of the pollutants that have been reported to date may cause temporary eye, nose, or throat irritation, nausea, or headaches, but are not thought to be high enough to cause long-term harm.

EPA and CDC will continue to monitor the air, water, and soil/sediment and if we begin to detect levels that might be of health concern, we will provide updates to the public. For up-to-date information on air quality and monitoring data along the Gulf Coast, please see

For More Information

Learn More About Health Concerns after the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

Learn More About the Public Health Role in Disaster Response

CDC Responds to the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: Archives

  • Page last reviewed June 11, 2010
  • Page last updated June 11, 2010
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