NIH plans research with Gulf oil spill workers

The National Institutes of Health will reserve $10 million to study health effects connected to the cleanup of the Gulf oil spill, after health problems among the expanding cleanup workforce were reported in early June.

According to a recent Science News article, Health and Human Services and the CDC are already working with local agencies to track the health of cleanup workers, including the short- and long-term health effects of oil spill cleanup exposures.

The pace and urgency of research in emergency and disaster settings can raise unique ethical concerns about research with human subjects. What ethical issues do you foresee arising from research with these workers? And, what lessons can we learn from past disaster research that should be considered in planning and approving Gulf oil spill studies?