Health effects of non-occupational exposure to oil extraction

Cristina O'Callaghan-Gordo, Martí Orta-Martínez, Manolis Kogevinas

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

© 2016 O'Callaghan-Gordo et al. Oil extraction may cause extensive environmental impact that can affect health of populations living in surrounding areas. Large populations are potentially exposed to oil extraction related contamination through residence in areas where oil extraction is conducted, especially in low and middle income countries (LMICs). Health effects among people residentially exposed to upstream oil industry contaminants have been poorly studied. Health effects of exposure to oil related contamination have been mainly studied among cleanup workers after oil spills from tankers or offshore platforms. In this paper we aim to identify the type and extension of residential exposures related to oil extraction activities and to comment on the few health studies available. We estimated that 638 million persons in LMICs inhabit rural areas close to conventional oil reservoirs. It is relevant to specifically study people residentially exposed to upstream oil industry for the following reasons: First, persons are exposed during long periods of time to oil related contamination. Second, routes of exposure differ between workers and people living close to oil fields, who can be exposed by ingestion of contaminated waters/foods and by dermal contact with contaminated water and/or land during daily activities (e.g. bathing, agricultural activities, etc.). Third, individuals potentially more susceptible to the effect of oil related contamination and not normally occupationally exposed, such as infants, children, pregnant women, elderly or people with previous health conditions, are also exposed. There are few papers studying the potential health effects of residential exposure to oil related contamination, and most of them share important limitations. There is a need for more research through the conduct of methodologically robust studies in exposed populations worldwide. Despite the difficulties in the conduct of studies in remote areas, novel approaches, such as measurement of individual exposure using biomarkers of exposure and effect, should be used. These studies should be promoted to understand the health risks associated to residential exposure to oil related contamination, support effective control policies to avoid such contamination and to sustain public health recommendations and policies to avoid exposure in already contaminated areas.
Original languageEnglish
Article number140
JournalEnvironmental Health: A Global Access Science Source
Volume15
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2016

Keywords

  • Crude oil
  • Non-occupational exposures
  • Oil extraction industry

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