Discipline: Ecology Environmental and Earth Sciences
Subcategory: Pollution/Toxic Substances/Waste
Christian Thomas - Dillard University
Co-Author(s): Bernard Singleton, Dillard University, New Orleans
The Gulf of Mexico experienced the largest maritime oil spill in U.S. history when the Deep Water Horizon spill took place in 2010. An Oil spill of this magnitude resulted in a vast accumulation of genotoxic substances in the air, soil, and water. The contaminated environment has the potential to place significant impact for years to come on the populations that thrive on the gulf, such as employment, human and animal health, and food supply. The purpose of this study is to assess the presence of genotoxins in the environment in the area of the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill impacted shoreline for the last four years and the potential impact on public health. In order to determine the levels of genotoxicity of air samples collected from highly contaminated areas of coastal Louisiana, we have employed portable air samplers, and a genetically engineered bacterial reporter system. The areas focused upon were Grand Isle, Port Fourchon, and Elmer’s Island during the spring, summer and fall seasons from 2011-2014. As a control for background airborne genotoxicity, samples were collected from a non-contaminated area known as Sea Rim State Park, Texas. When comparing the contaminated areas to our control, there was a significant increase in air genotoxicity with the highest values being registered in July 2011, 2013, and 2014 in all three locations. This seasonal trend was disrupted in 2012, when the highest genotoxic values were detected in October after the landfall of Hurricane Isaac in August. The data presented three major points, one being that the over the past four years (201114) high levels of air genotoxicity persists in the monitored areas, secondly temperature and humidity correlate with a peak of genotoxicity in the summers, and the third that the trend was affected by the hurricane Isaac, informing us further that there is continuous negative impact of the oil spill in this region and it is influence by the weather conditions. These points have the questions asked, is there a need to continue to monitor the genotoxic levels on the Gulf shorelines and what effects they are having in the areas.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): National Science Foundation - HRD
Faculty Advisor: Bernard Singleton,