The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) has been involved in response to the oil spill since shortly after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon. Multiple discussions with community groups related to environmental health impacts have revealed primary concerns over lack of knowledge regarding the safety of petrogenic polycyclic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the oil, its disposition due to use of dispersants, and long-term effects on the food web and human health effects. Concerns are increased since many families not only subsist on Gulf seafood but also rely on its harvest for financial support. This proposal thus seeks to understand the long-term health effects arising from contamination of the (3ulf by oil, with emphasis on Gulf finfish and shellfish and potential effects in humans consuming them. Project 1 utilizes a Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR), which actively involves the community in each phase. We will assess effects on human health at both individual and community levels, given that many Coastal communities have also suffered from a sequence of natural disasters. Project 1 includes: community organizations from LA and MS, UTMB, the University of Pennsylvania, Texas A&M University at Galveston, LA State University, and the University of AZ.
Specific aims i nclude: 1) establishing the consortium between Gulf fishing communities and academic scientists;2) carrying out a comprehensive health assessment of exposed Gulf-fishing community members residing in LA and MS to include measures of parent petrogenic PAH in biospecimens and health effects, to be analyzed in Project 2;3) measuring exposure and response biomarkers of petrogenic PAH, biomarkers of health effects including smoke exposure and psychosocial stress, and intermediate cancer biomarkers in the Project 1 cohort to be analyzed in Projects 3 and 4;4) assessing the relationship of consumption of Gulf seafood and biomarkers of exposure, effect, and oxidative stress in the Gulf Coast population, 5) assessing the household and community economics of seafood;6) investigating the inherent/traditional community resilience in affected communities and 7) evaluating the success of processes and outcomes in meeting identified needs.
Following the Gulf oil spill pressing questions regarding the safety of the seafood have been raised by the communities most likely to be affected. By determining the level of contamination of PAH in various seafood species, and the toxicity associated with the PAH, we will be able to address the human health risk associated with local seafood consumption in the wake of the oil spill.
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