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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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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Available on Android devices
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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.
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.
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