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Your Environment. Your Health.

Health Risk Assessment Examines Shrimp Consumption after Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Jeffrey Wickliffe, Ph.D.
Tulane University of Louisiana
NIEHS Grant U19ES020677

A risk assessment carried out by NIEHS grantees showed that people who frequently consume shrimp from an area affected by the Deep Water Horizon oil spill had no serious health risks or increased cancer risk from eating this seafood. Although it was thought that seafood from the area of the oil spill would contain high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a toxicant found in crude oil, the shrimp actually showed very low levels of PAHs.

After the Deep Water Horizon oil spill of 2010, there was concern about health risks associated with eating seafood contaminated from the spill. To assess these risks, the researchers used a community-based approach to survey and assess shrimp consumption, food preparation methods, and personal bodyweight in a group of Vietnamese-Americans in Southeast Louisiana. Many Vietnamese-Americans in the Gulf-coast region are involved in commercial shrimping and fishing and frequently consume white shrimp. The investigators analyzed levels of 81 PAHs in locally harvested white shrimp and combined this information with survey data they collected from the Vietnamese-Americans. The results showed no excess cancer or non-cancer health risks.

Citation: Wilson MJ, Frickel S, Nguyen D, Bui T, Echsner S, Simon BR, Howard JL, Miller K, Wickliffe JK. 2014. A targeted health risk assessment following the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure in Vietnamese-American shrimp consumers. Environ Health Perspect;

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