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Risk of Longer-term Neurological and Endocrine/Metabolic Conditions in the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Coast Guard Cohort Study

Denic-Roberts, Hristina (2022) Risk of Longer-term Neurological and Endocrine/Metabolic Conditions in the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Coast Guard Cohort Study. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Although oil spills continue to occur worldwide, long-term health effects among response workers are largely unknown. Studies examining longer-term neurological and endocrine/metabolic outcomes are sparse, despite the biological plausibility of crude oil and oil dispersant constituents affecting neurological and endocrine systems. Additionally, oil spill studies have primarily examined spill-related exposures and health outcomes focusing on one exposure at a time. While the urgency of examining longer-term health consequences related to crude oil and dispersant exposures remains, studying more realistic responder exposure scenarios of multiple stressors simultaneously is critical. This dissertation aimed to fill these research gaps by using data from a well-characterized cohort of U.S. Coast Guard responders to the largest marine oil spill in U.S. history, the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DWH) disaster. Oil spill exposures were ascertained from post-deployment surveys, while incident health outcomes were classified from military health encounter records during 2010-2015.
In Manuscript 1, we found that DWH cleanup exposures, including crude oil inhalation and a combination of crude oil and dispersants, were moderately associated with increased risks for longer-term neurological conditions, including headaches/migraines, tinnitus, and an inflammatory nerve condition, mononeuritis of upper limb and mononeuritis multiplex. In Manuscript 2, we demonstrated that the same self-reported crude oil and combination of crude oil and dispersant exposures were associated with elevated risks for longer-term endocrine and metabolic conditions, including dyslipidemia, obesity, and abnormal weight gain. In Manuscript 3, we used an exposure mixtures approach (principal component analysis) and classified spill responders into five distinct exposure patterns comprised of chemical, physical, and psychological stressors. Each exposure pattern was independently associated with modestly elevated risks for several longer-term neurological and endocrine/metabolic conditions.
As the world’s energy demands for crude oil continue, the risk of future oil spills remains. Our findings of longer-term neurological and endocrine/metabolic conditions provide new evidence of human health consequences following an oil spill cleanup and have larger public health implications. Specifically, this evidence may be used to inform disaster preparedness officials of potential preventative and mitigation strategies needed to protect the health of future oil spill responders and individuals residing near oil spills.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Denic-Roberts, Hristinahrd7@pitt.eduhrd7
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairCostacou, Tinacostacout@edc.pitt.educostacout
Committee MemberBuchanich, Jeaninejeanine@pitt.edujeanine
Committee MemberMiller, Rachelmillerr@edc.pitt.edumillerr
Committee MemberTalbott, Evelyneot1@pitt.edueot1
Committee MemberRusiecki,
Date: 30 August 2022
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 28 July 2022
Approval Date: 30 August 2022
Submission Date: 3 August 2022
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 224
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Epidemiology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Oil spill, Deepwater Horizon, Crude oil, Dispersants, Neurological, Endocrine, Metabolic, Coast Guard, Spill responders, Exposure mixtures
Date Deposited: 30 Aug 2022 13:41
Last Modified: 30 Aug 2022 13:41


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