Fact Sheets for Health Professionals
Information for Clinicians on the Oil Spill Affecting the Gulf Coast (English)
Guidance for Health Professionals
- Keep children away from the oil.
- Children should not be allowed to play in or around areas where the water or beach contains oil or sludge. Parents should check with local health officials to determine which beaches or shore areas are affected (see links below).
- Children should not be involved in swimming, boating, or fishing activities in areas known to have oil or sludge contamination.
- Adults should handle clean-up efforts, including issues related to fish, birds, and other wildlife exposed to the oil.
- Children, including teens, should not be involved in clean-up. Children should be the last group to return to areas impacted by oil or other toxic substances.
- Consider potential for unknown risks. There may be unknown risks or health effects from exposure to the oil or other toxic agents.
- Food and drinking water sources and supplies could become contaminated. Residents should be attentive and follow any health alerts or advisories from local authorities.
- Neither children nor anyone else should eat fish or seafood from oily waters.
- Keep up to date with latest information on what to do. The following resources can help families understand and follow environmental testing results and health recommendations.
- The US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) is testing air, water, and soil/sediment in some affected areas for various substances ranging from volatile organic compounds or VOCs to particulate matter to sulfur-containing compounds (http://www.epa.gov/bpspill/epa.html#r6). These substances could cause various health effects depending upon the level of exposure, the duration of exposure, and the susceptibility of the individuals exposed.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is tracking potential health effects (http://emergency.cdc.gov/gulfoilspill2010/2010gulfoilspill/health_surveillance.asp) and offers resources specific to the 2010 oil spill (http://emergency.cdc.gov/gulfoilspill2010/).
- Remember that children may be at high risk for exposures and have lasting negative effects from exposures to contaminants. Parents and caregivers should follow the state health department, local health department, and CDC reports and recommendations closely and should urge their children to do the same.
- State Health Department web sites:
- Alabama Department of Public Health (http://www.adph.org/riskcommunication/Default.asp?id=4362)
- Florida Department of Environmental Protection (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/deepwaterhorizon/default.htm)
- Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov/offices/?id=378)
- Mississippi State Department of Health (http://healthyms.com/msdhsite/_static/23.9689.195.html)
- Texas Department of State Health Services (http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/preparedness/hurricanes.shtm)
- Local Poison Control Centers (1-800-222-1222 or http://www.aapcc.org) are available to respond to questions related to acute exposures.
- The PEHSU network is available to assist with additional questions, particularly those regarding low dose, long term exposures. (888-347-4976 or http://www.pehsu.net).
- Information and links to resources are available via the AAP web site at http://www.aap.org/disasters/oil-spill.cfm.
- Talking with children and helping them to cope is important.
- When children are exposed to situations that are beyond the scope of their usual experience, they may have difficulty understanding and coping with the events.
- Talking to children about the oil spill can help them understand the situation, including the risks they may be exposed to on a day-to-day basis and what they can do to keep themselves safe.
- Some children may develop a range of stress-related symptoms. For example, it may be upsetting for them to see dead or oil-covered birds or animals. Parents should watch for signs of stress such as sleep difficulties, behavior pattern change, change in school performance, increased fighting with siblings, and substance abuse. It is important to make your child’s doctor aware if your child or teen develops any of these problems. Adults may need to take steps to promote adjustment and help children cope. For tips, see: http://www.aap.org/disasters/adjustment.cfm.
- Raising a family and taking care of children is challenging, especially during tough economic conditions. Children may be worried that their parents will lose their job or their home lives will be disrupted. Children can sense stress and become anxious or upset if no one communicates with them. Adults should talk to kids about the economy and the potential economic effects of the oil spill. For tips, see http://www.aap.org/disasters/economy.cfm.
- Communities may need to designate or identify outdoor areas (parks, playgrounds, yards, etc.) that are clean and free from safety and environmental hazards. This would include ensuring that routes to and from living, learning, and playing places are cleaned and made free of safety and environmental hazards.
9. Members of my family are working on clean-up. Are there precautions we should take?
*CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
*Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
*Deepwater BP Oil Spill and Federal Response (White House)
*American Academy of Pediatrics: Children and Disasters