The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Through the Lens of Human Health and the Ecosystem
- 560 Downloads
This review examines current research ascertaining the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on human health and ecosystems. Driven by the need to strategically focus research funding, the authors also assess the implications of those findings and promote a transdisciplinary research agenda addressing critical gaps.Epidemiologic studies conducted in workers and vulnerable communities in the spill’s aftermath showed that non-chemical stressors affect resilience. Ecosystem-wise salt marsh species showed variability in structural and functional changes, attributed to species-specific tolerance, oil exposure, and belowground plant organs damage.Lacking baseline exposure assessment data hampers assessing the impact of chemical stressors. Research priorities include leveraging existing women/child dyads and worker cohorts to advance exposure characterization and counter early adverse effects in most vulnerable populations. Key policy gaps include mandated just-in-time emergency resources to ascertain immediate post-event exposures and contemporary legislation addressing human and ecosystem health in an integrated rather than silo fashion.
KeywordsHuman health Ecosystem Exposure Non-chemical stressors
This research was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health grant number 5U19ES020677. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
This research was supported in part by the Gulf Region Health Outreach Program, which is funded from the Deepwater Horizon Medical Benefits Class Action Settlement approved by the US District Court in New Orleans on January 11, 2013 and made effective on February 12, 2014.
This research was supported in part by the Intramural Research Program of the NIH, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
Maureen Lichtveld reports grants from NIH/NIEHS and GRHOP. Christopher Mundorf reports grants from National Institutes of Health. Samendra Sherchan, Kaitlyn B. Gam, Richard K. Kwok, Arti Shankar, and Lissa Soares declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: •Of importance
- 1.Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative. Investigating the effect of oil spills on the environment and human health. 2013. http://gulfresearchinitiative.org/. Accessed 08/21/2016.
- 2.National Science Foundation. National Science Foundation—where discoveries begin. https://www.nsf.gov/. Accessed 08/21/2016.
- 3.National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Gulf Research Program. 2016. http://www.nationalacademies.org/gulf/index.html. Accessed 08/21/2016.
- 4.•Goldstein BD, Osofsky HJ, Lichtveld MY. The gulf oil spill. N Engl J Med. 2011;364(14):1334–48. doi: 10.1056/NEJMra1007197. This manuscript provides a more comprehensive description of clinical and public health consequences and attention to the vulnerable populations on the US Gulf Coast. The manuscript also examines how the research agenda set by the IOM/NAS can advance addressing health concerns. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- 5.Kwok RK, Engel LS, Miller AK, et al. (in press) The GuLF STUDY: a prospective study of persons involved in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response and clean-up. Environ Health Perspect. doi: 10.1289/EHP715
- 6.National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Deepwater Horizon Research Consortia. http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/supported/centers/gulfconsortium/. Accessed 08/22/2016.
- 7.Deepwater Horizon Medical Benefits Class Action Settlement Agreement. Case 2:12-cv-00968-CJB-SS. EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA. https://deepwaterhorizonmedicalsettlement.com/en-us/courtbrdocuments/MedicalClassActionComplaint.aspx. Accessed 04/16/2012.
- 9.Elliot D. 5 Years after BP oil spill, Effects linger and recovery is slow. Morning Edition 2015.Google Scholar
- 10.Adams A. Summary of Information concerning the Ecological and Economic Impacts of the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Disaster. Nat Res Def Counc 2015.Google Scholar
- 11.Wilson C, editor. Ecology, ecosystems services and related methodologies. Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference 2016; Tampa, Florida.Google Scholar
- 12.Biedron SE. Time for action: six years after Deepwater Horizon Washington DC. USA: Oceana; 2016.Google Scholar
- 17.US Coast Guard. On scene coordinator report Deepwater Horizon oil spill: Submitted to the National Response Team, September 2011. Retrieved October. 2011;10:2014.Google Scholar
- 19.Allan SE, Smith BW, Anderson KA. Impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on bioavailable polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in Gulf of Mexico coastal waters. Environ Sci Technol. 2012;46(4):2033-9. https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/results/areas/pacs/index.html. Accessed 08/21 2016.
- 24.•McCoy MA, Salerno JA. Assessing the effects of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill on human health. Washington, DC: The National Academy of Sciences; 2010. Assessing the effects of the home oil spill on human health, this article sets the first national human health research agenda shortly after the oil spill. Noteworthy is the prominent placement of the psychosocial and behavioral effects and the emphasis on resilience as a key area of study alongside more traditional chemical stressors. Google Scholar
- 25.Goldman L, Mitchell A, Patlak M. Review of the proposal for the gulf long-term follow-up study: highlights from the September 2010 workshop: workshop report. National Academies Press; 2010.Google Scholar
- 27.Canfield C, Angove, R., Boselovic, J., et al. Developing a community-based participatory research curriculum to support environmental health research partnerships: an initiative of the GROWH Community Outreach and Dissemination Core. Int J Nursing Clin Practice. 2016;3(187).Google Scholar
- 29.Jacobs MB, Harville EW, editors. Long-term mental health among low-income, minority women following exposure to multiple natural disasters in early and late adolescence compared to adulthood. Child & Youth Care Forum; 2015: Springer.Google Scholar
- 31.Rung AL, Gaston S, Oral E, et al. Depression, mental distress and domestic conflict among Louisiana women exposed to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the WaTCH Study. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2016.Google Scholar
- 33.•Lichtveld MY, Shankar A, Mundorf C, et al. Measuring the Developing Therapeutic Relationship Between Pregnant Women and Community Health Workers Over the Course of the Pregnancy in a Study Intervention. J Comm Health. 2016:1-10. This manuscript describes for the first time a quantitative strategy to measure the impact of the relationship between a community health worker and a pregnant woman participant in a non-clinical setting using a modified Scale to Assess the Therapeutic Relationship (STAR) assessment tool. To date, the STAR has been exclusively used in clinical settings. Google Scholar
- 34.Mundorf CA, Lichtveld MY. Using community-based, ethnographic methods to examine risk perceptions and actions of low-income, first-time mothers in a post-spill environment. J Risk Res. 2016:1-15Google Scholar
- 35.•Laffon B, Pasaro E, Valdiglesias V. Effects of exposure to oil spills on human health: updated review. J Toxicol Environ Health Part B, Crit Rev. 2016;19(3-4):105–28. doi: 10.1080/10937404.2016.1168730. This article is the most updated comprehensive review of human health effects of oil spill exposure. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 38.Gill DA, Picou JS, Ritchie LA. The Exxon Valdez and BP oil spills: a comparison of initial social and psychological impacts. Am Behav Sci. 2011:0002764211408585.Google Scholar
- 45.Lubin JH, Colt JS, Camann D, et al. Epidemiologic evaluation of measurement data in the presence of detection limits. Environ Health Perspect. 2004;1691–6.Google Scholar
- 46.Hewett P, Ganser GH. A comparison of several methods for analyzing censored data. Ann Occup Hyg. 2007;51(7):611–32.Google Scholar
- 50.Manly BJ. Statistics for environmental science and management. Florida: Chapman & Hall/CRC; 2001.Google Scholar
- 51.Gilbert RO. Statistical methods for environmental pollution monitoring. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company; 1987.Google Scholar
- 53.Mundorf C, Shankar A, Peng T, et al. Therapeutic relationship and study adherence in a community health worker-led intervention. Journal of Community Health. 2016:1-9Google Scholar
- 56.Mayer B, Running K, Bergstrand K, et al. Compensation and community corrosion: perceived inequalities, social comparisons, and competition following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Sociological Forum; 2015: Wiley Online Library.Google Scholar
- 57.The Gulf Research Program. A strategic vision. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2014.Google Scholar
- 58.Peres LC, Trapido E, Rung AL, et al. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill and physical health among adult women in Southern Louisiana: the Women and Their Children’s Health (WaTCH) study. Environ Health Perspect. 2016.Google Scholar
- 59.Gulf Coast Health Alliance. Project 1: Community health assessment of health risks associated with the Macondo Spill: increasing resilience in diverse vulnerable communities. https://www.utmb.edu/GCHARMS/project_1.asp. Accessed 09/25/2016.