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Monday, June 18th, 2012
Fishermen who had participated in the clean-up of the Prestige oil spill, which took place in November 2002 in Spain, kept on suffering respiratory problems five years after the accident. This is the conclusion of the first study worldwide that analyzed the long-term health effects of an environmental disaster of this kind and that was conducted by a team of researchers from several institutions including CREAL (Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology).
Specifically, the researchers found that the prevalence of respiratory symptoms (including wheezing, shortness of breath, cough and phlegm) had decreased slightly in Galician fishermen during the previous four years, but remained to be higher among those who had been exposed to clean-up work. In addition, Jan-Paul Zock, CREAL researcher and responsible author of the study, warns that "there is a risk of persistent respiratory symptoms, particularly in cases of a prolonged involvement and/or a lack of adequate protective masks." Therefore, the study emphasizes the importance of international regulations and of a continued surveillance of workers involved in clean-up work of oil spills.
In this study of the SEPAR-Prestige Group, published in the international journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, interviewed 501 fishermen who had been doing clean-up work and 177 unexposed individuals in 2008, including the same questions as in the initial survey in 2004 that involved 6,780 fishermen. This research group has been evaluating potential adverse health effects of the spill for the last 8 years. As for now, the group will not end their work and continue exploring the clinical and biological characteristics of the long-term health effects.
This research was promoted and financially supported by the Spanish Society of Pulmonology and Thoracic Surgery (SEPAR). Funding was also provided by the Health Institute Carlos III/FEDER (FIS), the Galician Health Service (SERGAS), the CIBER of Respiratory Diseases (CIBERES) and the CIBER of Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP).
Reference article: Persistent Respiratory Symptoms in Workers clean-up 5 years after the Prestige oil spill. Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Jan-Paul Zock, Gema Rodríguez-Trigo, Emma Rodríguez-Rodríguez, et al.DOI: 10.1136/oemed-2011-100614.
For further information, you may information contact: Gisela Sanmartín, Communications Manager: 93 214 73 33//696 912 841 or email@example.com. CREAL.
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