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Gulf Oil Spill 2010: Key Points - Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Human Health Interim Clinical Guidance

  • Health risks due to inhalation of mist or vapors are considered highest for oil spill responders, wildlife rehabilitations workers, and direct observers of cleanup activities. 
  • For additional information on Oil Spill Worker Safety and Health
  • “Weathered” crude oil (WCO) or oil “mousse” reaching the shoreline may be devoid of the lighter, more volatile, oil components. Therefore, generally, WCO has no known appreciable health risks from inhalation for the general population. However, there may be a health risk from skin exposure, specifically dermatitis and possibly increased risk of skin cancer.
  • Advise patients to avoid exposure to outside air, water, and sediment along shorelines and other areas with advisories in place as recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and based on their environmental monitoring at
  • Counsel patients with chronic cardiovascular disease and chronic respiratory conditions (such as asthma or COPD) to limit their exposures to contaminated air. Advise patients living in contaminated areas to remain in an air-conditioned space, to set the air conditioner to “recirculate” the air (if possible), and to keep doors and windows shut.
  • Advise patients to avoid direct exposure to oil or sludge as much as possible, especially pediatric patients, their parents and pregnant women. Children should be restricted from playing in or around contaminated areas, and they should not be involved in cleanup efforts. 
  • Report all known or suspected exposure related health conditions by calling your local or regional Poison Control Center hotline at 1-800-222-1222 or number found online at:

Please also see "Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill Human Health Interim Clinical Guidance"

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