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Your Environment. Your Health.

University of Florida

J. Glenn Morris, M.D.

Project Description

NIEHS Grant: U19ES020683

The project, Health Impact of Deepwater Horizon Spill in Eastern Gulf Coast Communities, led by the University of Florida (UF), supported 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 have remained along the Gulf shoreline.    

Scientists collected data on contaminants in seafood, including hydrocarbons, dispersants and metals, and developed 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 expanded upon psychological studies first conducted in 2010 by UF and the University of Maryland, which assessed 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 allowed psychologists to expand the psychological study to determine people’s long-term ability to cope several years after a disaster.

Several community partners assisted in the data collection and dissemination of project findings.

Community Partners

  • Alabama Seafood Association
  • Cedar Key Aquaculture Association
  • Citizen’s Against Toxic Exposure
  • Franklin’s Promise Coalition, Inc.