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Oil spill illnesses, injuries double in past month

Oil spill workers toiling along the Gulf Coast have suffered 1,753 illnesses and injuries, according to most recent figures from BP. That’s more than double the tally of a month ago.

Records collected from April 22 through July 15 include 718 illnesses ranging from dehydration and heat exhaustion to seasickness, and 1035 injuries, mostly cuts, bruises and strains caused by accidents. On July 11, for instance, a worker slipped and caught his arm on a fish hook, which was embedded so deeply it reached the bone.

Meanwhile, as of Wednesday, poison control centers had received 863 calls from people in 18 states reporting exposures to oil and dispersants, with symptoms that include headaches, nausea, vomiting and dizziness. People who called from states outside the Gulf Coast region may have been in the area to work or visit or may have family there, said a staffer with the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

Another 536 people have called seeking information about the health effects of the spill, according to the poison centers.

The largest number of reports has come from Louisiana, where health officials have logged 290 health complaints, including 216 from workers and 74 from the general population. Most frequent symptoms include headache, dizziness and nausea.