National Wildlife Federation says health study of Kalamazoo River oil spill is incomplete

08-19-2011 // The Kalamazoo Gazette
Oil in Kalamazoo River

This excerpt is from The Kalamazoo Gazette

A Michigan Department of Community Health study that says there are no long-term health effects related to human contact with submerged oil is receiving criticism that it is incomplete.

The report, released Wednesday night after a public meeting held by the EPA in Marshall, says that studies have shown that contact with submerged oil will neither cause long-term health effects or an increased chance of cancer.

Doug Inkley, a senior scientist with the National Wildlife Federation, said more research needs to be done before on submerged oil before making such statements.

“It’s a premature conclusion based on incomplete results,” Inkley said. “The jury is still out.”

Inkley said his biggest concern about the study is that eight chemicals found in the submerged oil were not included in the conclusion.

Jennifer Gray, a toxicologist at MDCH who helped prepare the study, said there are a few reasons why those chemicals were not included in the study.

Some of the chemicals were actually groups of chemicals, some of which had already been individually tested in the study. Other chemicals did not enough of the chemical present in the submerged oil to bring it above the reporting limit.

The oil provides a “unique challenge,” Inkley said. “It’s not what individual chemicals may mean for human health,” but what the chemicals mixed together can do.

“The blanket statement made needs to be qualified because it’s is not accurate,” said Inkley. “It’s premature to draw such a broad conclusion when a number of chemicals have not been tested.”

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