The Toxicological Impact of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill on Human and Wildlife Health

Saturday, February 16, 2013: 8:30 AM-11:30 AM
Room 310 (Hynes Convention Center)
The 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil crisis was the worst environmental pollution disaster in U.S. history. By the time the well was capped, more than 200 million gallons of crude oil poured into the Gulf over an 87-day period. To combat the crisis, a marine toxicology strategy was deployed to decrease the toxic potential of the event to inshore species by increasing the toxic potential to offshore species. Thus, over 2 million gallons of chemical dispersants were applied to the oil, which prevented oil accumulation at the ocean surface and, instead, moved it into the water column and onto the ocean floor. This approach decreased the amount of surface oil reaching inshore waters and beaches. However, it is unclear if it ultimately decreased toxicity to inshore species because the acute and chronic toxicity of dispersants, dispersed oil, and oil-related metals in the water column are unknown. Also unknown are the toxic outcomes of this approach for offshore species. This symposium will present some of the first studies to evaluate the impact of this toxicological strategy considering the toxicity of crude oil, dispersants, dispersed oil, and oil-related metals on benthic and pelagic species using a combination of field and laboratory studies. Species considered will span from microbes and invertebrates, to fish and whales, with some consideration of human health effects. Outcomes considered will range from simple survival studies to more subtle effects on reproduction and DNA integrity.
John Pierce Wise Sr., University of Southern Maine
R. Joseph Griffitt, University of Southern Mississippi
Samantha B. Joye, Ph.D., University of Georgia
Impact of the Gulf Oil Crisis on the Sea Floor
Carys Mitchelmore, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Laboratory Studies To Assess the Effects of Oil Spill Chemical Dispersants on Corals
R. Joseph Griffitt, University of Southern Mississippi
Effects of Dispersed Oil on Larval Sheepshead Minnows
John Pierce Wise Sr., University of Southern Maine
The Gulf of Mexico Offshore Toxicology Study
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