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Results of oil spill impact surveys from four coastal parishes released today

March 3rd, 2011

March 3, 2011                                                                                   

For immediate release

Contact: Anne Rolfes, Founding Director, LA Bucket Brigade, (504) 452-4909

Media events:

Press conference at 10:30 a.m. today at Tulane's University Square, 200 Broadway, Suite #105, New Orleans, La.

Teleconference at noon CST today. Please call 1-866-906-9888 and use the access code 4817190.

Results of oil spill impact surveys from

four coastal parishes released today

Residents aren’t receiving proper health care

NEW ORLEANS, La. – The results of surveys from 954 coastal residents show a population that experienced an increase in symptoms in the days and weeks following the BP Oil Disaster. Reported symptoms were consistent with chemical exposure. Surveys show residents are turning to over-the-counter medication because of the lack of adequate health care nearby.

From July-October 2010, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, Tulane University’s Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy and Patagonia Clothing Company sent surveyors to 15 communities in four coastal parishes. The survey was designed to determine if Gulf Coast residents experienced health and economic impacts from the oil spill. See the full report here and a shorter version here.

Among the findings: 48 percent of those surveyed reported an unusual spike of at least one health symptom. The most frequently reported symptoms were coughs, sinus irritation and eye and skin irritation. A third of respondents reported using over-the-counter medication more often than usual since the oil spill. They also reported scant access to health care and medical professionals versed in toxicology and chemical exposure.

The oil spill affected the livelihoods of 44 percent of households’ primary providers. Nearly a quarter reported needing but not receiving economic assistance due to lost income.

“We worry about when the seafood will sell like normal again. I need to take care of my family. Everyone is worried about how to survive,” said one fisherman in Plaquemines Parish.

Another fisherman in that parish noted that people are depressed and fishermen are out of work. The respondent worried they aren’t going to be able to pass the skills of fishing and shrimping onto their kids.

Below are the recommendations developed based on respondents' comments and the survey results:

1. Create access to long-term health care for exposure-related illnesses
2. Facilitate access to health care providers with experience diagnosing chemical exposure
3. Ensure continued access to mental health care
4. Establish an ongoing public health surveillance
5. Train and hire local residents to conduct independent seafood sampling
6. Future research should be action-oriented in collaboration with communities
7. Pursue a restoration economy
8. Improve the claims process

About the Louisiana Bucket Brigade:

The Louisiana Bucket Brigade is an environmental health and justice organization supporting neighborhoods’ use of grassroots action to create informed, sustainable communities free from industrial pollution.
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