Assessing the Effects of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill on Human Health: A Summary of the June 2010 Workshop

National Academies Press
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From the origin of the leak, to the amount of oil released into the environment, to the spill's duration, the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill poses unique challenges to human health. The risks associated with extensive, prolonged use of dispersants, with oil fumes, and with particulate matter from controlled burns are also uncertain. There have been concerns about the extent to which hazards, such as physical and chemical exposures and social and economic disruptions, will impact the overall health of people who live and work near the area of the oil spill.

Although studies of previous oil spills provide some basis for identifying and mitigating the human health effects of these exposures, the existing data are insufficient to fully understand and predict the overall impact of hazards from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the health of workers, volunteers, residents, visitors, and special populations. Assessing the Effects of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill on Human Health identifies populations at increased risks for adverse health effects and explores effective communication strategies to convey health information to these at-risk populations. The book also discusses the need for appropriate surveillance systems to monitor the spill's potential short- and long-term health effects on affected communities and individuals.

Assessing the Effects of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill on Human Health is a useful resource that can help policy makers, public health officials, academics, community advocates, scientists, and members of the public collaborate to create a monitoring and surveillance system that results in "actionable" information and that identifies emerging health risks in specific populations.
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Additional Information

Publisher
National Academies Press
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Published on
Sep 1, 2010
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Pages
200
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ISBN
9780309161145
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Medical / General
Medical / Public Health
Nature / Environmental Conservation & Protection
Science / Earth Sciences / General
Science / Environmental Science
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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Hidden away in foggy, uncharted rain forest valleys in Northern California are the largest and tallest organisms the world has ever sustained–the coast redwood trees, Sequoia sempervirens. Ninety-six percent of the ancient redwood forests have been destroyed by logging, but the untouched fragments that remain are among the great wonders of nature. The biggest redwoods have trunks up to thirty feet wide and can rise more than thirty-five stories above the ground, forming cathedral-like structures in the air. Until recently, redwoods were thought to be virtually impossible to ascend, and the canopy at the tops of these majestic trees was undiscovered. In The Wild Trees, Richard Preston unfolds the spellbinding story of Steve Sillett, Marie Antoine, and the tiny group of daring botanists and amateur naturalists that found a lost world above California, a world that is dangerous, hauntingly beautiful, and unexplored.

The canopy voyagers are young–just college students when they start their quest–and they share a passion for these trees, persevering in spite of sometimes crushing personal obstacles and failings. They take big risks, they ignore common wisdom (such as the notion that there’s nothing left to discover in North America), and they even make love in hammocks stretched between branches three hundred feet in the air.

The deep redwood canopy is a vertical Eden filled with mosses, lichens, spotted salamanders, hanging gardens of ferns, and thickets of huckleberry bushes, all growing out of massive trunk systems that have fused and formed flying buttresses, sometimes carved into blackened chambers, hollowed out by fire, called “fire caves.” Thick layers of soil sitting on limbs harbor animal and plant life that is unknown to science. Humans move through the deep canopy suspended on ropes, far out of sight of the ground, knowing that the price of a small mistake can be a plunge to one’s death.

Preston’s account of this amazing world, by turns terrifying, moving, and fascinating, is an adventure story told in novelistic detail by a master of nonfiction narrative. The author shares his protagonists’ passion for tall trees, and he mastered the techniques of tall-tree climbing to tell the story in The Wild Trees–the story of the fate of the world’s most splendid forests and of the imperiled biosphere itself.


From the Hardcover edition.
The United States has the highest per capita spending on health care of any industrialized nation. Yet despite the unprecedented levels of spending, harmful medical errors abound, uncoordinated care continues to frustrate patients and providers, and U.S. healthcare costs continue to increase. The growing ranks of the uninsured, an aging population with a higher prevalence of chronic diseases, and many patients with multiple conditions together constitute more complicating factors in the trend to higher costs of care.

A variety of strategies are beginning to be employed throughout the health system to address the central issue of value, with the goal of improving the net ratio of benefits obtained per dollar spent on health care. However, despite the obvious need, no single agreed-upon measure of value or comprehensive, coordinated systemwide approach to assess and improve the value of health care exists. Without this definition and approach, the path to achieving greater value will be characterized by encumbrance rather than progress.

To address the issues central to defining, measuring, and improving value in health care, the Institute of Medicine convened a workshop to assemble prominent authorities on healthcare value and leaders of the patient, payer, provider, employer, manufacturer, government, health policy, economics, technology assessment, informatics, health services research, and health professions communities. The workshop, summarized in this volume, facilitated a discussion of stakeholder perspectives on measuring and improving value in health care, identifying the key barriers and outlining the opportunities for next steps.
Recent research suggests that obesity and excess weight can play a prominent role in the incidence and progression of various cancers. Obesity results from an energy imbalance - that is, energy intake that is higher than energy expenditure - could also influence the growth of cancers. Recognizing the impact that current findings on obesity and cancer could have on future cancer prevention and care, the National Cancer policy Forum (NCPF) of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) help a 2-day workshop on "The Role of Obesity in Cancer Survival and Recurrence," in Washington, DC, on October 31 and November 1, 2011.

The Role of Obesity in Cancer Survival and Recurrence: Workshop Summary reviews each presenter's latest clinical evidence on the obesity-cancer link and the molecular mechanisms that might explain that link. Clinicians, researchers, cancer survivors, and policy makers also discussed potential interventions to counter the effects of obesity on cancer, and research and policy measures needed to stem the rising tide of cancer mortality predicted by an increasingly overweight and older population worldwide.

The Role of Obesity in Cancer Survival and Recurrence: Workshop Summary explores the complex web of molecular mechanisms that underlie the obesity-cancer link, the ways to design future studies to acquire the information needed to guide patient care, what to advise cancer patients about weight loss, diet, exercise, and other measures to reduce their risk of cancer progression or recurrence and policy suggestions related to research, education, and dissemination of the findings on obesity and cancer.

In 1996, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released its report Telemedicine: A Guide to Assessing Telecommunications for Health Care. In that report, the IOM Committee on Evaluating Clinical Applications of Telemedicine found telemedicine is similar in most respects to other technologies for which better evidence of effectiveness is also being demanded. Telemedicine, however, has some special characteristics-shared with information technologies generally-that warrant particular notice from evaluators and decision makers.

Since that time, attention to telehealth has continued to grow in both the public and private sectors. Peer-reviewed journals and professional societies are devoted to telehealth, the federal government provides grant funding to promote the use of telehealth, and the private technology industry continues to develop new applications for telehealth. However, barriers remain to the use of telehealth modalities, including issues related to reimbursement, licensure, workforce, and costs. Also, some areas of telehealth have developed a stronger evidence base than others.

The Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA) sponsored the IOM in holding a workshop in Washington, DC, on August 8-9 2012, to examine how the use of telehealth technology can fit into the U.S. health care system. HRSA asked the IOM to focus on the potential for telehealth to serve geographically isolated individuals and extend the reach of scarce resources while also emphasizing the quality and value in the delivery of health care services. This workshop summary discusses the evolution of telehealth since 1996, including the increasing role of the private sector, policies that have promoted or delayed the use of telehealth, and consumer acceptance of telehealth. The Role of Telehealth in an Evolving Health Care Environment: Workshop Summary discusses the current evidence base for telehealth, including available data and gaps in data; discuss how technological developments, including mobile telehealth, electronic intensive care units, remote monitoring, social networking, and wearable devices, in conjunction with the push for electronic health records, is changing the delivery of health care in rural and urban environments. This report also summarizes actions that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) can undertake to further the use of telehealth to improve health care outcomes while controlling costs in the current health care environment.
Pharmaceutical companies, academic researchers, and government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health all possess large quantities of clinical research data. If these data were shared more widely within and across sectors, the resulting research advances derived from data pooling and analysis could improve public health, enhance patient safety, and spur drug development. Data sharing can also increase public trust in clinical trials and conclusions derived from them by lending transparency to the clinical research process. Much of this information, however, is never shared. Retention of clinical research data by investigators and within organizations may represent lost opportunities in biomedical research. Despite the potential benefits that could be accrued from pooling and analysis of shared data, barriers to data sharing faced by researchers in industry include concerns about data mining, erroneous secondary analyses of data, and unwarranted litigation, as well as a desire to protect confidential commercial information. Academic partners face significant cultural barriers to sharing data and participating in longer term collaborative efforts that stem from a desire to protect intellectual autonomy and a career advancement system built on priority of publication and citation requirements. Some barriers, like the need to protect patient privacy, pre- sent challenges for both sectors. Looking ahead, there are also a number of technical challenges to be faced in analyzing potentially large and heterogeneous datasets.

This public workshop focused on strategies to facilitate sharing of clinical research data in order to advance scientific knowledge and public health. While the workshop focused on sharing of data from preplanned interventional studies of human subjects, models and projects involving sharing of other clinical data types were considered to the extent that they provided lessons learned and best practices. The workshop objectives were to examine the benefits of sharing of clinical research data from all sectors and among these sectors, including, for example: benefits to the research and development enterprise and benefits to the analysis of safety and efficacy. Sharing Clinical Research Data: Workshop Summary identifies barriers and challenges to sharing clinical research data, explores strategies to address these barriers and challenges, including identifying priority actions and "low-hanging fruit" opportunities, and discusses strategies for using these potentially large datasets to facilitate scientific and public health advances.
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