For Immediate Release
For more information, please contact APHA Communications at 202-777-2509 or email us .

APHA applauds Congress for holding hearings on public health implications of Gulf Coast oil spill

Washington, D.C., June 15, 2010 — The American Public Health Association applauds a Senate and a House committee for taking up the health implications of the Gulf Coast oil spill during congressional hearings set for today and Wednesday. Legislators are expected to examine the effect of the nation’s worst-ever environmental catastrophe on the public’s health.
 
“It may take years before we know the extent of the trauma the leaking oil is causing throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the surrounding ecosystem,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of APHA. “But while efforts continue to stop the flow and contain its spread, we must also make sure we adequately protect those in harm’s way now, including the response workers and those living and working along the Gulf Coast.”

The Gulf disaster requires a national response to protect the health of all those affected by the leak. The Association urges that:
  • the health of both workers and residents be monitored for any ill effects;
  • air, food and water surveillance systems be enhanced to ensure the best public health response and residents and consumers be kept informed; and
  • health insurance be provided for those who are uninsured, including those out of work or whose livelihoods have been lost as a result of the spill.

“Human health is inextricably linked to the health of the environment,” said Benjamin, “And this disaster showcases the grave risks of continuing business as usual. We urge Congress and the administration to move our nation toward a healthier energy policy, one that would reduce reliance on polluting fossil fuels; consider the health impact of energy proposals; protect workers; and safeguard the public's health and safety by protecting the water we drink, the air we breathe and the food we eat.”

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing today, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee will convene a hearing on Wednesday.

More information about the public health implications of the spill is available at http://www.apha-environment.org/.

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Founded in 1872, the APHA is the oldest, largest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world. The association aims to protect all Americans and their communities from preventable, serious health threats and strives to assure community-based health promotion and disease prevention activities and preventive health services are universally accessible in the United States. APHA represents a broad array of health providers, educators, environmentalists, policy-makers and health officials at all levels working both within and outside governmental organizations and educational institutions. More information is available at www.apha.org.