Study: Social and Mental Impact From Gulf Oil Spill Similar to Exxon Valdez
Posted on April 19, 2011
A new study has found the social disruption and psychological stress among Gulf residents from the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil spill is similar to the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez spill. The study also found the impacts from the BP spill are likely to persist for years. The study focused on the residents of south Mobile County, Alabama.
Here are some highlights of the study's findings.
- Event-related psychological stress among residents of south Mobile County, five months after the BP oil spill, was similar to that of residents of Cordova five months after the Exxon Valdez.
- If the trends observed in Cordova hold true for Alabama, significant spill-related psychological stress can be expected to continue in south Mobile County over the next decade.
- One-fifth of south Mobile County respondents were in the severe stress category and another one-fourth were in the moderate range. The finding was similar to the sample from Cordova in which more than one-half were classified as either severe or moderate.
- Higher levels of event-related psychological stress among south Mobile County residents were consistently related to family health concerns, economic loss, concern for future economic loss, ties to ecosystem resources and exposure to oil.
- Four out of 10 respondents (43%) reported a commercial connection to coastal resources, and those with connections to damaged/threatened resources were more likely to experience higher levels of stress.
- People in lower income categories and lower levels of education were more likely to experience high levels of stress.
- Approximately one out of three respondents experienced some type of exposure to oil, and such exposure was significantly related to higher levels of stress.
- 66% of respondents reported negative spill-related economic impacts on their households.
- 56% of respondents indicated concern about the threat of economic loss.
The research was a collaborative effort among Ritchie, Duane Gill of Oklahoma State University and J. Steven Picou of the University of South Alabama. A random telephone survey modeled after previous work on the Exxon Valdez spill was used for the study. The University of South Alabama Polling Group in September 2010 received responses from 412 residents or 46% of those contacted. All responders were age 18 or older and had lived in the area for at least a year.