OIL EXPOSURE AND CHRONIC HEALTH EFFECTS ON INDIGENOUS POPULATIONS IN SOUTH AMERICA
Gascon Merlos, M.
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There is an ongoing discussion on whether the activity of oil companies and its environmental impacts are a threat for the health of the populations in affected areas. Some compounds present in crude oil (PAHs, VOCs, heavy metals and others) have been proven to cause health effects on humans. However, crude oil itself is still under discussion. The objective of this thesis is to review the epidemiological evidence available on this topic in the area of South-America to clarify the discussion. Occupational and population studies outside South-America were included in the analysis as well as supporting information. In general, the results seem to support that exposure to crude oil and some of its components can represent a threat at different levels (respiratory and reproductive health, some cancer types and acute effects). Nevertheless, the quality of some of these studies, both negative and positive ones, and its conclusions are sometimes dubious or questionable due to different factors (study designs, study populations and controls, exposure assessment, exposure missclassification of the study population, etc). As a conclusion, further and efficient research is needed to finally prove causation.