The Gulf Long-term Follow-up Study (GuLFSTUDY) is prospectively studying the mental and physical health effects associated with participating in oil spill response and clean up following the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DWH) disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The explosion of the DWH drilling rig led to the largest marine oil spill in U.S. history. Individuals who participated in oil spill response and clean-up activities were potentially exposed to a range of stressors and toxicants related to crude oil, dispersants, and oil combustion products. With nearly 33,000 participants, the GuLFSTUDY is the largest prospective study ever conducted on the potential health effects associated with an oil spill.
Between March 2011 and March 2013, 32,608 adults who participated in oil spill response and cleanup, or who completed safety training with the intention of participating, enrolled in the study. The GuLFSTUDY enrollment interview collected information about oil-spill clean-up related exposures, health at the time of the spill and at enrollment, and lifestyle and other factors that might confound associations between exposures and health. A subset of the cohort (~11,200) residing in the Gulf states completed a home exam during which biological samples were collected and banked for future research and clinical measurements, including anthropometrics, blood pressure, and measures of pulmonary function, were collected. Between May 2013 and May 2016, 23,690 participants completed the first follow-up questionnaire. A subset of 3,401 participants living within ~60 miles of a study clinic in Mobile, Alabama, or New Orleans, Louisiana, completed a comprehensive clinical exam that assessed lung and neurological function using standardized tests. Biological samples were also collected. A second follow-up interview was completed by more than 14,000 participants between November 2017 and May 2021. Participants are followed for mortality through linkage with the National Death Index and those residing in Gulf states are followed for cancer Incidence using State Cancer Registries.
The study protocol, questionnaires, and other materials, including a complete list of study publications and study newsletters, can be found on the GuLFSTUDY website. Researchers interested in access to GuLFSTUDY data or proposing scientific collaborations can find information at For Researchers (nih.gov).
Dale Sandler, Ph.D.
Chief, Epidemiology Branch and Senior Investigator
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