From the origin of the leak, to the amount of oil released into the environment, to the spill's duration, the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill poses unique challenges to human health. The risks associated with extensive, prolonged use of dispersants, with oil fumes, and with particulate matter from controlled burns are also uncertain. There have been concerns about the extent to which hazards, such as physical and chemical exposures and social and economic disruptions, will impact the overall health of people who live and work near the area of the oil spill. Although studies of previous oil spills provide some basis for identifying and mitigating the human health effects of these exposures, the existing data are insufficient to fully understand and predict the overall impact of hazards from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the health of workers, volunteers, residents, visitors, and special populations. Assessing the Effects of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill on Human Health identifies populations at increased risks for adverse health effects and explores effective communication strategies to convey health information to these at-risk populations.
The book also discusses the need for appropriate surveillance systems to monitor the spill's potential short- and long-term health effects on affected communities and individuals. Assessing the Effects of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill on Human Health is a useful resource that can help policy makers, public health officials, academics, community advocates, scientists, and members of the public collaborate to create a monitoring and surveillance system that results in "actionable" information and that identifies emerging health risks in specific populations.