“Bogus” claim made by leader of BP-funded cleanup worker health study says legal expert

Bogus Disclaimer on Oil Spill Health Study: Lead Researcher Says “We Can Never Demonstrate Exact Cause and Effect”, Oil Spill Action, March 3, 2011:

[...] You see the doublespeak begin in a Channel 8 Fox News report out of New Orleans, with the lead researcher saying that the study “…will help us learn if oil spills and exposure to crude oil, dispersants and fumes affect physical and mental health.” Don’t get too excited, because the researcher also carves out ample wiggle room, suggesting that the ultimate goal is impossible to achieve: “…we can never demonstrate exact cause and effect or provide proof in this type of observational study.”

Then the Fox report says this: “…investigators have their work cut out for them when it comes to determining whether high levels of benzene and other chemicals are due solely to the spill. She said benzene exposure can come from cigarette smoke and something as simple as pumping gasoline.”

Some environmental activists are already questioning the study (before it even gets going). In effect, why bother if you begin by saying you can’t determine cause and effect?

The fact is you can determine a great percentage of cause and effect. I’ve tried cases where oil companies attempt to dismiss their responsibility in causing cancer in their workers, because the victims smoked, but we’ve been able to show that other toxic exposures can be blamed as well. There’s actually a lot of precedent – if anyone wants to find it. [...]

Read the report here.

Study to Track Gulf Cleanup Workers' Health, Wall Street Journal, February 22, 2011:

[...] BP wanted "an independent and credible review" of any potential link between cleanup workers' heath problems and the spill, said Richard Heron, BP's chief medical officer. The government scientists overseeing the worker-health study are "very credible," he said. ...

The spill study won't prove definitively whether BP oil caused any health problems, said scientists who helped design it. The Gulf region has so many other pollution sources, from chemical plants to boats, that proving the spill caused anyone's illness will be exceedingly hard.

Drivers pumping gas into their cars often breathe in some of the same chemicals, such as benzene, that cleanup workers may have inhaled from the spilled oil, said Maureen Lichtveld, chairwoman of the environmental health sciences department at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and one of the experts consulted in designing the study.

It's "very difficult, in general environmental health, to really isolate a specific cause and effect," she said. But, she said, "we may get some clues." [...]

Read the report here.

3 comments to “Bogus” claim made by leader of BP-funded cleanup worker health study says legal expert

  • soozla

    The moment the people sign on to this "study"--they are under control of BP.
    This will give them opportunity to find various ways to deflect responsibility for the health problems of the people.. on to other causes.
    The people do not need to be studied .. they need medical assistance.

  • xdrfox

    Well when children/people are sickened at a much higher rate in the Gulf region maybe this

    will give less wiggle room. Small children do not smoke/pump gas. And this should allow a

    common them of exposure, we are not dealing with just people who worked on the oil gusher

    but all people who lived in the effected area of the entire gulf and any where the winds

    blew or swam in the tainted waters. This will not only be on the head of BP but Gov.

    entities that have allow this to be worse on the public. So one would expect them to work

    in unison to avoid culpability. So what will the affected be up against is a long

    litigation endeavor, possibly with no end and no compensation in their lifetime. Everywhere I read, I see the guilty worm wiggle.

  • People on the Gulf Coast have 3 to 12 times the national average because of what special circumstances? Do they pump ten times as much gasoline? Smoke ten times as much? Have ten times as many coal plants and other polluters? Or could it be that one of the largest oil spills in history soaked the region so completely that it rained oil? BP scientist will never be sure.

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