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Gulf Coast Health Alliance: health Risks related to the

Macondo Spill (GC-HARMS)

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The focus of the Gulf Coast Health Alliance: health Risks related to the Macondo Spill (GC-HARMS) study is to understand the long-term environmental health effects from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, specifically regarding the consumption of seafood contaminated by petrogenic Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs).

The Alliance is a coalition of academic institutions and local organizations that were either directly or indirectly impacted by the Macondo Spill, including:

  • UTMB
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Texas A&M at Galveston
  • Louisiana State University
  • Louisiana Environmental Action Network
  • Center for Environmental and Economic Justice
  • Vietnamese American Community Partners
  • United Houma Nation
  • Alabama Fisheries Cooperative
  • Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing

The goals of GC-HARMS are to:

  1. Assess seafood contamination,
  2. Determine PAH toxicity,
  3. Evaluate exposure and health outcomes in a longitudinal cohort study, and
  4. Disseminate findings to stakeholders.

The study has called upon local shrimpers, oystermen, crabbers, and fin fishermen who are trained in the sampling process to collect specimens for testing via Gas Chromatography coupled with a mass spectrometer detector (GC-MS). Utilizing this instrument allows scientists to determining substances that are present in the sample. The results from this study will be used to develop seafood consumption guidelines.

In addition to the saltwater specimens collected for sampling, three research sites were selected for human sampling: Because the spill largely affected Louisiana and Mississippi, the research team selected two communities in Mississippi and one in Louisiana. The Galveston, Texas community served as a comparison site. Over the course of three years following the spill, participants in the study completed surveys and received comprehensive physical exams.



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