Acute health problems among the people engaged in the cleanup of the Nakhodka oil spill

Environ Res. 1999 Oct;81(3):185-94. doi: 10.1006/enrs.1999.3979.


To determine if the Nakhodka oil spill and subsequent cleanup efforts had any health effects on the residents along the oil-contaminated coast, we investigated the health status of Anto residents who resided nearest to the coast where the bow ran aground. Two hundred eighty-two men and women involved in the cleanup activities between January 7 and January 20 were interviewed and examined by public health nurses to determine whether they suffered physical symptoms after exposure to the oil spill. Urine examinations for hydrocarbon toxicological markers were performed on 97 residents. The average number of days worked on cleanup activities was 4.7 days for men and 4.3 for women. Seventeen percent of the subjects had worked on cleanup activities for more than 10 days. Protective equipment was used against direct exposure to oil during the cleanup jobs and consisted of gloves used by almost 100% of the subjects and masks used by 87.1% of women and by only 35.4% of men. Glasses were worn by less than 30% of the subjects. Many symptoms emerged after the beginning of cleanup activities. The principal symptoms included low back pain and leg pain, headache, and symptoms of eyes and throat. Among the subjects undergoing urine tests, only three people showed a higher level of hippuric acid, although they returned to normal in the second examination. Accordingly, the exposure to the oil and the subsequent cleanup efforts were suggested to inflict acute health problems on local residents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Aged
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Hippurates / urine
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Petroleum / adverse effects*
  • Public Health
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / adverse effects*


  • Hippurates
  • Petroleum
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • hippuric acid