Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health vol. 42, no. 2, pp. 96 - 103
Objectives : We evaluated the health effects of exposure to BTEX (Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, m,p-Xylene, o- Xylene) in the Taean area after the Hebei Spirit oil spill. Methods : We used a questionnaire survey to look for health effects among 80 pregnant women 2 to 3 months following the Hebei Spirit oil spill. Their BTEX exposures were estimated using the CALPUFF method. We then used a multiple logistic regression analysis to evaluate the effects of BTEX exposure on the women s health effets. Results : Pregnant women who lived near the accident site reported more symptoms of eye irritation and headache than those who lived farther from the site. There was a trend of decreasing symptoms with an increase in distance from the spill site. Pregnant women exposed to higher ambient cumulative levels of Xylene were significantly more likely to report symptoms of the skin (OR 8.01 95% CI= 1.74-36.76) in the first day after the accident and significantly more likely to report abdominal pain (OR 3.86 95% CI=1.02-14.59 for Ethylbenzene, OR 6.70 95% CI= 1.82-24.62 for Xylene) during the 1st through 4th days following the accident. Conclusions : This study suggests that exposure to BTEX from an oil spill is correlated with an increased risk of health effects among pregnant women. This implies the need to take proper measures, including the development of a national policy for environmental health emergencies and a plan for studying the short- and long-term chronic health effects associated with such spills.