Monday, February 21, 2011

Counting the psychological cost of Deepwater Horizon

In April 2010 there was an explosion and fire on a BP-licensed oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico resulting in millions of gallons of oil spilling out into the Gulf. Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the University of Florida, Gainesville have been looking into the psychological impact of the spill in a study of 94 people; 71 of whom lived in Florida and 23 of whom lived in Alabama. The study found raised levels of anxiety and depression in people living in Alabama, where the oil reached the shore, and in Florida where it didn't. Both groups had similar high levels of worry about the impact of the spill on the environment, health and seafood safety. However, the levels of psychological distress were higher among people who had suffered income loss because of the spill. They felt significantly more tension, anger, fatigue and overall mood disturbance than those whose income had not been affected and these people also had lower scores for psychological resilience.

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