Petrogenic Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Levels and Health of Gulf Coast Communities Following the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill


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The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill was responsible for the release of over five million barrels of crude oil, containing petrogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), into the Gulf of Mexico. Few studies have described the effects that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has had on human health. Utilizing an ongoing longitudinal cohort study we set out to investigate the relationship between health status and exposure to petrogenic PAHs following the oil spill. Our results show differences in cardiovascular, skin, and musculoskeletal health based on community residence. Relatively higher median plasma PAH levels were also observed in multiple communities following the oil spill compared to the reference community. However, no association between overall clinical status and plasma PAH levels for any of the clinical categories assessed was observed. Communities did indicate an increased likelihood of associating the spill with the development of their symptoms based on location. Overall, health outcomes analyzed were not associated with plasma PAH levels. These data provide a baseline in which to compare the results with subsequent waves of data collected in order to investigate potential long-term health effects following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.



community health, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, Gulf of Mexico, oil spill