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Original Article Hebei Spirit oil spill exposure and acute neuropsychiatric effects on residents participating in clean-up work.
Jin Hee Eum, Hae Kwan Cheong, Mina Ha, Ho Jang Kwon, Eun Hee Ha, Yun Chul Hong, Ye Yong Choi, Woo Chul Jeong, Jong Il Hur, Seungmin Lee, Eun Jung Kim, Eun Hee Lee, So Young Lee Ahn, Jong Hun Kim
Epidemiol Health 2008;30(2):239-251
DOI: https://doi.org/10.4178/kje.2008.30.2.239
Published online: December 31, 2008
1Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, SungkyunkwanUniversity School of Medicine, Korea. hkcheong@skku.edu
2Department of Preventive Medicine, Dankook UniversityMedical College, Korea.
3Department of Preventive Medicine, Ewha Woman's UniversitySchool of Medicine, Korea.
4Department of Preventive Medicine, Seoul National UniversityCollege of Medicine, Korea.
5Citizen's Institute for Environmental Studies, KoreanFederation for Environmental Movement, Korea.
6Taean Institute of Environmental Health, Korea.
7Department of Public Health Seoul National University,Korea.
8Korea Women's Environmental Network, Korea.
Received: 29 October 2008   • Accepted: 15 December 2008
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Hebei Spirit oil spill accident has brought about the worst coastal oil contamination in Korean history. Following the accident, residents and volunteers, number exceeding a million from nationwide, were exposed to chemicals from the crude oil itself and dispersants, including volatility organic compounds (VOCs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and heavy metals through the clean-up works over months. This study was undertaken to investigate the effect of clean-up work on the peripheral nerve function and psychologic status of the residents after a prolonged exposure to clean-up work after the oil spill exposure.
We performed a study on the residents of Jango-do Island, Chungnam, on 5 and 12 January 2008, six to eight weeks after the accident. A questionnaire on general characteristics, Korean Beck Depression Inventory (K-BDI), color vision test (Lanthony desaturated D-15 test), and vibration perception threshold test were done. Among 210 residents with 30 years or older, 63 (30%) finished questionnaires and completed at least one among K-BDI, color vision test, or vibration perception threshold test. Descriptive statistics was done on the residents.
The residents participated in clean-up work for average 20 days, max 30 days, during 6 weeks following the accident. Average work hours were 7.4 hours per day, max 10 hours. On K-BDI, 21 (33.3%) had a severe depressive state. Mean color confusion index was 1.29 in the right and 1.20 in the left. Mean vibration perception threshold was 3.69 VU (right) and 3.55 VU (left), respectively.
AND CONCLUSIONS: Compared to literature report, the residents had higher depression scale. Color vision threshold was not higher compared to general population near an industrial complex. Vibration perception threshold was significantly higher than the residents of similar age living near an abandoned mine in southern coastal area only in the age group of forties. These suggests there is some evidence of neuropsychiatric effect related to oil cleaning work and a mid- and long-term study of the oil exposure health effects with continuous monitoring should be done for the exposed residents in the affected area.

Epidemiol Health : Epidemiology and Health