The DWH oil spill is perceived to be a risk to human health in coastal communities. This risk will be examined in our project by measuring the concentration of petrogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in human serum and its source, the contaminated seafood that they consume. Complementary modeling experiments planned in this project will provide the predictive exposure risks from consuming tainted seafood. Therefore, we will determine the body burden signature of petrogenic PAHs in various marine species with different life histories and metabolic capacities. The signature of PAHs identified in marine animals will be measured in individuals in the fishing communities consuming oil-tainted seafood. The data thus obtained will be utilized in computational modeling of migratory behavior and food web transfers to predict the risk of persistent human exposure. To establish levels of PAHs in marine animals and their impact on human health from long-term exposure to food chain contaminants, we propose the following three specific aims:
Specific Aim 1. Biomarkers of Exposure in Marine Animals: To determine the burden of DWH petrogenic PAHs in fishes, shrimps, crabs and oysters collected from various BP Gulf oil spill affected areas using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS)-based approach to provide hydrocarbon signature for DWH oil exposure.
Specific Aim 2. Biomarker of Exposure in Humans: To assess human exposure to DWH oil, the most prevalent hydrocarbons identified in marine life (hydrocarbon signature) under Aim1 will be analyzed in human serum samples collected from individuals in our partner communities using GC-MS.
Specific Aim 3. Inverse Exposure Modeling: Data obtained from Aims 1 and 2 will be utilized in inverse models of marine food webs of target (exposed) species to determine the risk of exposure of DWH oil to affected communities. The models will combine known information of the natural history of the organisms, the evolving condition and distribution of the contaminants and the co-distribution of the two over the life span of the organisms and their prey. This study will be conducted by an experienced team of scientists from UTMB and Texas A&M University at Galveston to provide collective information about the oil exposure of at-risk populations in a true interdisciplinary fashion. This research will be based on current human exposure data as well as future exposure risks. Our project is developed using substantial community input and will provide the necessary data to confirm exposure to DWH PAHs for various stressor analysis in Project 1 and contribute vitally to Projects 3 (PAH extracts) and 4 (exposure data) to obtain the correlations between exposure and biomarkers of stress and toxicity including early and intermediate markers of diseases (ie. cancer).
The goal of our U19 application is to study the long-term health effects of the crude oil contamination of the Gulf of Mexico due to the explosion and resultant oil spill of Deepwater Horizon (DWH) drilling platform using the principles of community-based participatory research. In response to the concerns of affected Gulf Coast communities, results of our research will provide the data about their exposure to DWH oil through contamination of the seafood central to their livelihood.
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