For workers in Alaska, oil spills can have a major impact on their health. These environmental disasters can create negative short and long-term effects that lead to various damaging health outcomes.
Effects of oil spills
Oil spills release a wide variety of dangerous chemicals into the water or the ground. Many of these are extremely toxic and volatile. This can result in immediate effects for the workers who were on-site at the time of the spill, those who responded to the cleanup, and anyone else who was in the immediate vicinity of the incident. These short-term impacts include a variety of symptoms, including nausea, chest pain, blisters and sores on the skin, dizziness and confusion, and even memory loss. It is hard to know which chemicals are responsible for each set of symptoms, but oil spills are quite dangerous and should be treated with a high degree of caution.
Prolonged exposure to oil spills and residual oil can have long-term impacts as well. These are not as well studied as the short-term risks, but they include a higher risk of problems with the heart, liver, and lungs as well as blood disorders, and even higher cancer risk. Maritime accidents like oil spills are dangerous events and the environmental hazards can have lifelong implications for the workers who experience them.
An oil spill can have one or more different negative outcomes, and they can span all kinds of different lengths of time. Workers who have been exposed to oil should be on the alert for these symptoms in case they become more severe.