What Are the Oil Spill Health Risks?

As the oil spill flooding the Gulf of Mexico sickens workers and residents, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has informed BP that the company will be made responsible for the health consequences of the catastrophe. "We're very concerned about the impact of the disaster on the public health of people in the gulf region," Sebelius wrote in a letter to BP's chairman Friday. Last week, a small number of workers were hospitalized after complaining of nausea and dizziness, forcing the Coast Guard to clear an entire area of the Gulf as a precaution. So far, though, federal officials haven't detected hazardous levels of any dangerous substances, Sebelius said. But one environmental analyst likened the health dangers of working in the area to that of Ground Zero following Sept. 11. "It's unbelievable what's going on," he said. "It's like déjà vu all over again."