People who live outside the Gulf Coast region aren’t getting a complete story about the effects of the oil spill, and much of what is being reported is inaccurate. The further you get from the Gulf Coast, the less the concerns over conditions there are. The long-range effects are being pretty much watered down. An emergency survey, conducted door-to-door in coastal Alabama recently, confirmed elevated levels of depression and stress following the oil spill. The survey also detected possible effects, such as respiratory ailments, according to a preliminary report. Epidemiologists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention joined with local heath workers and counselors to collect the data starting in late August. The initial report, issued by the CDC’s national Center for Environmental Health, was based on responses from households in the southern parts of Mobile and Baldwin counties.
Concern about mental health issues linked to the Gulf spill is based on experiences after the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska. The rates of suicide, domestic violence, and divorce spiked in areas of Alaska most affected by the contamination. According to the CDC report, financial anxieties would also likely have an impact on mental health and should be considered a component of outreach efforts. This is an area of concern that must be watched closely.
Folks on the Coast are hurting and it’s important for people outside the region to be given complete and accurate information. After the Exxon Valdez spill, the rates of suicide, domestic violence and divorce soared in the areas most affected by the contamination of Prince Edward Sound. Many health officials are concerned that the same is ahead for Gulf communities where, for generations, families have made a living from local waters.
Sources: Mobile Press Register and AL.com
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