Environmental stress in the Gulf of Mexico and its potential impact on public health
© 2015 Elsevier Inc. The Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was the largest maritime oil spill in history resulting in the accumulation of genotoxic substances in the air, soil, and water. This has potential far-reaching health impacts on cleanup field workers and on the populations living in the contaminated coastal areas. We have employed portable airborne particulate matter samplers (SKC Biosampler Impinger) and a genetically engineered bacterial reporter system (umu-ChromoTest from EBPI) to determine levels of genotoxicity of air samples collected from highly contaminated areas of coastal Louisiana including Grand Isle, Port Fourchon, and Elmer's Island in the spring, summer and fall of 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Air samples collected from a non-contaminated area, Sea Rim State Park, Texas, served as a control for background airborne genotoxic particles. In comparison to controls, air samples from the contaminated areas demonstrated highly significant increases in genotoxicity with the highest values registered during the month of July in 2011, 2013, and 2014, in all three locations. This seasonal trend was disrupted in 2012, when the highest genotoxicity values were detected in October, which correlated with hurricane Isaac landfall in late August of 2012, about five weeks before a routine collection of fall air samples. Our data demonstrate: (i) high levels of air genotoxicity in the monitored areas over last four years post DWH oil spill; (ii) airborne particulate genotoxicity peaks in summers and correlates with high temperatures and high humidity; and (iii) this seasonal trend was disrupted by the hurricane Isaac landfall, which further supports the concept of a continuous negative impact of the oil spill in this region.
Publication Source (Journal or Book title)
Singleton, B., Turner, J., Walter, L., Lathan, N., Thorpe, D., Ogbevoen, P., Daye, J., Alcorn, D., Wilson, S., Semien, J., Richard, T., Johnson, T., McCabe, K., Estrada, J., Galvez, F., Velasco, C., & Reiss, K. (2016). Environmental stress in the Gulf of Mexico and its potential impact on public health. Environmental Research, 146, 108-115. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2015.12.019