A new study reports that workers exposed to crude oil and dispersants used during the Gulf oil spill cleanup display significantly altered blood profiles, liver enzymes, and somatic symptoms compared to an unexposed control group.
Investigators found that platelet counts were significantly decreased in the exposed group, while both hemoglobin and hematocrit levels were notably increased. Their findings, reported in The American Journal of Medicine, suggest that oil spill cleanup workers are at risk for developing hepatic or blood-related disorders.
In April 2010, Deepwater Horizon, an offshore drilling rig owned by British Petroleum (BP) exploded, spewing over 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. In order to break down the oil slick, BP used nearly 2 million gallons of dispersants like COREXIT, and an estimated 170,000 workers participated in the cleanup effort. Currently, COREXIT is banned in the United Kingdom because of its potential risk to cleanup workers.
While other studies have identified a relationship between oil spills, dispersants, and human health, this new research from the University Cancer and Diagnostic Centers, Houston, TX, led by G. Kesava Reddy, PhD, MHA, and Mark A. D'Andrea, MD, FACRO, focuses primarily on the link between oil spill exposure and hematologic and hepatic functions in subjects who had participated in the oil spill cleanup operation. The investigators looked at a total of 247 subjects between January 2010 and November 2012, with 117 subjects identified as exposed to the oil spill and dispersants by participating in the cleanup over the duration of three months. The unexposed control group of 130 subjects was comprised of people living at least 100 miles away from the Gulf coast of Louisiana.
Using medical charts, demographic and clinical records, the team reviewed specific data points such as white blood cell (WBC) counts, platelet counts, hemoglobin, hematocrit, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), creatinine, serum beta-2 microglobulin, alkaline phosphatase (ALP), aspartate amino transferase (AST), and alanine amino transferase (ALT) for both groups.
While no significant differences were noted in the WBC counts of the two groups, the study did find that platelet counts were notably decreased in the oil spill exposed group. Also, BUN and creatinine levels were substantially lower in the exposed group, while hemoglobin and hematocrit levels were increased compared to the unexposed subjects. Furthermore, considered indicators of hepatic damage, the serum ALP, AST, and ALT levels in the exposed subjects were also elevated, suggesting that the exposed group may be at a higher risk for developing blood-related disorders.
"Phosphatases, amino transferases, and dehydrogenases play critical roles in biological processes. These enzymes are involved in detoxification, metabolism, and biosynthesis of energetic macromolecules that are important for different essential functions," says lead investigator G. Kesava Reddy. "Alterations in the levels of these enzymes result in biochemical impairment and lesions in the tissue and cellular function."
Participants also reported somatic symptoms, with headache reported most frequently, followed by shortness of breath, skin rash, cough, dizzy spells, fatigue, painful joints, night sweats, and chest pain. "The health complaints reported by those involved in oil cleanup operations are consistent with the previously reported studies on major oil spills. However, the prevalence of symptoms appears to be higher in the present study compared with the earlier findings of other investigators," added Dr. Reddy.
The investigators acknowledge that the lack of pre-disaster health data on the subjects involved in the study is the greatest limiting factor; however, the data collected have shown significant health effects on the cleanup workers.
"To our knowledge, no previous study has explored the effects of the oil spill specifically assessing the hematological and hepatic functions in oil spill cleanup workers," explains Dr. Reddy. "The results of this study indicate that oil spill exposure appears to play a role in the development of hematologic and hepatic toxicity. However, additional long-term follow-up studies are required to understand the clinical significance of the oil spill exposure."
Jane Grochowski | EurekAlert!
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
25.04.2017 | Life Sciences