University of Florida
J. Glenn Morris, M.D.
The grant, Health Impact of Deepwater Horizon Spill in Eastern Gulf Coast Communities, led by the University of Florida (UF), supports 11 faculty and extension agents affiliated with UF colleges and institutes to establish a range of environmental, sociological, and psychological studies along the Gulf Coasts of Florida and Alabama. Environmental initiatives include partnering with fisheries to provide citizens with a source of trustworthy information about the health of seafood in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as establishing a GeoDatabase, which uses satellite imaging to map where petroleum hydrocarbon residue and other toxic contaminants may remain along the Gulf shoreline.
Scientists will collect data on contaminants in seafood, including hydrocarbons, dispersants and metals, and develop needed risk assessment data germane to Gulf Coast communities, based on regional seafood contaminant levels and seafood consumption rates.
In addition to the environmental assessments, researchers will expand upon psychological studies first conducted last year by UF and the University of Maryland, which assesses the mental health of people not only in the aftermath of the disaster, but also while the oil spill unfolded. Researchers found that the ongoing stress, especially the loss of employment after the spill, affected the ability of residents to regulate their emotions and execute some cognitive tasks. This grant will allow psychologists to expand the psychological study to determine people’s long-term ability to cope several years after a disaster.
Several community partners will assist in the data collection and dissemination of project findings.
- Alabama Seafood Association
- Cedar Key Aquaculture Association
- Citizen’s Against Toxic Exposure
- Franklin’s Promise Coalition, Inc.