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Oil Spill Hits Mississippi Shore
The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) has released the following information regarding public health issues resulting from the Gulf oil spill. State Health Officer Dr. Mary Currier said "We will provide updates on the public health aspects of this situation as it develops."

Air, Food, and Water Safety

Drinking Water
At this point, the oil spill is not expected to affect public drinking water supplies or private well water. 

Fish and Shellfish
Any fish available for commercial sale, for example, fish in grocery stores, comes from noncontaminated waters. Contaminated fish and seafood will not be allowed on the market by regulatory agencies. However, based on common sense, if a fish obtained from any source smells or tastes like oil, do not eat it.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Information about seafood safety.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Fishing Closure in Federal Waters

Air Quality
Petroleum fumes can be an irritant for some people. The odor may cause symptoms such as lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting or headaches. If you have these symptoms, you should:

Consider staying indoors, ventilating your home with air conditioning, and avoiding strenuous outdoor activity. 

If these symptoms do not improve, or if you are experience severe nausea or other medical issues, you should then consider contacting your primary care physician or other health care provider for medical advice. 

Mississippi Poison Control Center: 1-800-222-1222 

Air Monitoring
EPA responders began portable monitoring of air quality on April 28, and began water sampling on April 30. Aircraft were deployed to collect air sample data and provide aerial photographs and will continue tracking. The results of EPA's sampling efforts will be posted at EPA will make recommendations for the public to take based upon the results of environmental monitoring. In addition, the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health (under contract with BP) is monitoring air quality between Venice, Louisiana, and Pensacola, Florida. 

Long-Term Health Effects
Based on what we know, if exposure is brief, long-term health effects are not anticipated. 

At the Beach

Swimming and Boating
Do not swim, ski, or paddle a surfboard in any waters visibly affected by oil. Do not drive your boat through oil slicks or sheens. 

Beach Activities
Enjoy walking on the beach and in the surf, but heed any beach advisories, and use common sense. Avoid any areas with visible oil. 

Exposure to Oil

Oil on Skin or Clothing
You should avoid direct contact with the oil, or oil-contaminated water or sediment.

If you get oil on your skin, wash it off with soap and water. 

Wash your hands before eating to avoid accidentally swallowing oil. 

If you get oil on clothing, wash it as you normally would. 

Harsh detergents, solvents or other chemicals are not needed to wash oil from your skin or clothing, and their use is discouraged. 

Managing Stress

Manage Distress Caused by the Oil Disaster in the Gulf
Advice from the American Psychological Association 

Keeping Your Balance in a Crisis
Advice from the University of Mississippi Medical Center 

MEMA Call Center
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency has opened a call center to answer questions regarding the oil spill...1-866-920-6362.

Gulfport & Surrounding Area News Updates/Resources
NOAA Coverage
Mississippi State Department of Health
NASA Coverage
Mississippi Emergency Management Agency
City of Gulfport, Mississippi
WLOX ABC 13 - Gulfport, MS
WJTV CBS 12 - Jackson, MS

National News Updates
Hurricanes and the Oil Spill
BP Oil Company
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
NOAA Coverage
NASA Coverage
The New York Times
USA Today
FOX News