Exposure to Deepwater Horizon Crude Oil Burnoff Particulate Matter Induces Pulmonary Inflammation and Alters Adaptive Immune Response.
ABSTRACT: The ?in situ burning" of trapped crude oil on the surface of Gulf waters during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill released numerous pollutants, including combustion-generated particulate matter (PM). Limited information is available on the respiratory impact of inhaled in situ burned oil sail particulate matter (OSPM). Here we utilized PM collected from in situ burn plumes of the DWH oil spill to study the acute effects of exposure to OSPM on pulmonary health. OSPM caused dose-and time-dependent cytotoxicity and generated reactive oxygen species and superoxide radicals in vitro. Additionally, mice exposed to OSPM exhibited significant decreases in body weight gain, systemic oxidative stress in the form of increased serum 8-isoprostane (8-IP) levels, and airway inflammation in the form of increased macrophages and eosinophils in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. Further, in a mouse model of allergic asthma, OSPM caused increased T helper 2 cells (Th2), peribronchiolar inflammation, and increased airway mucus production. These findings demonstrate that acute exposure to OSPM results in pulmonary inflammation and alteration of innate/adaptive immune responses in mice and highlight potential respiratory effects associated with cleaning up an oil spill.
Project description:During the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill, a wide range of gas and aerosol species were measured from an aircraft around, downwind, and away from the DWH site. Additional hydrocarbon measurements were made from ships in the vicinity. Aerosol particles of respirable sizes were on occasions a significant air quality issue for populated areas along the Gulf Coast. Yields of organic aerosol particles and emission factors for other atmospheric pollutants were derived for the sources from the spill, recovery, and cleanup efforts. Evaporation and subsequent secondary chemistry produced organic particulate matter with a mass yield of 8 ± 4% of the oil mixture reaching the water surface. Approximately 4% by mass of oil burned on the surface was emitted as soot particles. These yields can be used to estimate the effects on air quality for similar events as well as for this spill at other times without these data. Whereas emission of soot from burning surface oil was large during the episodic burns, the mass flux of secondary organic aerosol to the atmosphere was substantially larger overall. We use a regional air quality model to show that some observed enhancements in organic aerosol concentration along the Gulf Coast were likely due to the DWH spill. In the presence of evaporating hydrocarbons from the oil, NO(x) emissions from the recovery and cleanup operations produced ozone.
Project description:Major oil spills are catastrophic events that immensely affect the environment and society, yet determining their spatial extent is a highly complex task. During the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) blowout, ~149,000 km2 of the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) was covered by oil slicks and vast areas of the Gulf were closed for fishing. Yet, the satellite footprint does not necessarily capture the entire oil spill extent. Here, we use in situ observations and oil spill transport modeling to examine the full extent of the DWH spill, focusing on toxic-to-biota (i.e., marine organisms) oil concentration ranges. We demonstrate that large areas of the GoM were exposed to invisible and toxic oil that extended beyond the boundaries of the satellite footprint and the fishery closures. With a global increase in petroleum production-related activities, a careful assessment of oil spills' full extent is necessary to maximize environmental and public safety.
Project description:Managing oil spill residues washing onto sandy beaches is a common worldwide environmental problem. In this study, we have analyzed the first-arrival oil spill residues collected from two Gulf of Mexico (GOM) beach systems following two recent oil spills: the 2014 Galveston Bay (GB) oil spill, and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill. This is the first study to provide field observations and chemical characterization data for the 2014 GB oil spill. Here we compare the physical and chemical characteristics of GB oil spill samples with DWH oil spill samples and present their similarities and differences. Our field observations indicate that both oil spills had similar shoreline deposition patterns; however, their physical and chemical characteristics differed considerably. We highlight these differences, discuss their implications, and interpret GB data in light of lessons learned from previously published DWH oil spill studies. These analyses are further used to assess the long-term fate of GB oil spill residues and their potential environmental impacts.
Project description:The Deepwater Horizon (DWH) spill released 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) over 87 days. Sediment and water sampling efforts were concentrated SW of the DWH and in coastal areas. Here we present geochemistry data from sediment cores collected in the aftermath of the DWH event from 1000-1500 m water depth in the DeSoto Canyon, NE of the DWH wellhead. Cores were analyzed at high-resolution (at 2 mm and 5 mm intervals) in order to evaluate the concentration, composition and input of hydrocarbons to the seafloor. Specifically, we analyzed total organic carbon (TOC), aliphatic, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAHs), and biomarker (hopanes, steranes, diasteranes) compounds to elucidate possible sources and transport pathways for deposition of hydrocarbons. Results showed higher hydrocarbon concentrations during 2010-2011 compared to years prior to 2010. Hydrocarbon inputs in 2010-2011 were composed of a mixture of sources including terrestrial, planktonic, and weathered oil. Our results suggest that after the DWH event, both soluble and highly insoluble hydrocarbons were deposited at enhanced rates in the deep-sea. We proposed two distinct transport pathways of hydrocarbon deposition: 1) sinking of oil-particle aggregates (hydrocarbon-contaminated marine snow and/or suspended particulate material), and 2) advective transport and direct contact of the deep plume with the continental slope surface sediments between 1000-1200 m. Our findings underline the complexity of the depositional event observed in the aftermath of the DWH event in terms of multiple sources, variable concentrations, and spatial (depth-related) variability in the DeSoto Canyon, NE of the DWH wellhead.
Project description:Symbiotic associations can be disrupted by disturbance or by changing environmental conditions. Endophytes are fungal and bacterial symbionts of plants that can affect performance. As in more widely known symbioses, acute or chronic stressor exposure might trigger disassociation of endophytes from host plants. We tested this hypothesis by examining the effects of oil exposure following the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill on endophyte diversity and abundance in Spartina alterniflora - the foundational plant in northern Gulf coast salt marshes affected by the spill. We compared bacterial and fungal endophytes isolated from plants in reference areas to isolates from plants collected in areas with residual oil that has persisted for more than three years after the DWH spill. DNA sequence-based estimates showed that oil exposure shifted endophyte diversity and community structure. Plants from oiled areas exhibited near total loss of leaf fungal endophytes. Root fungal endophytes exhibited a more modest decline and little change was observed in endophytic bacterial diversity or abundance, though a shift towards hydrocarbon metabolizers was found in plants from oiled sites. These results show that plant-endophyte symbioses can be disrupted by stressor exposure, and indicate that symbiont community disassembly in marsh plants is an enduring outcome of the DWH spill.
Project description:During the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill, massive quantities of oil were deposited on the seafloor via a large-scale marine oil-snow sedimentation and flocculent accumulation (MOSSFA) event. The role of chemical dispersants (e.g., Corexit) applied during the DWH oil spill clean-up in helping or hindering the formation of this MOSSFA event are not well-understood. Here, we present the first experiment related to the DWH oil spill to specifically investigate the relationship between microbial community structure, oil and Corexit®, and marine oil-snow in coastal surface waters. We observed the formation of micron-scale aggregates of microbial cells around droplets of oil and dispersant and found that their rate of formation was directly related to the concentration of oil within the water column. These micro-aggregates are potentially important precursors to the formation of larger marine oil-snow particles. Therefore, our observation that Corexit® significantly enhanced their formation suggests dispersant application may play a role in the development of MOSSFA events. We also observed that microbial communities in marine surface waters respond to oil and oil plus Corexit® differently and much more rapidly than previously measured, with major shifts in community composition occurring within only a few hours of experiment initiation. In the oil-amended treatments without Corexit®, this manifested as an increase in community diversity due to the outgrowth of several putative aliphatic- and aromatic-hydrocarbon degrading genera, including phytoplankton-associated taxa. In contrast, microbial community diversity was reduced in mesocosms containing chemically dispersed oil. Importantly, different consortia of hydrocarbon degrading bacteria responded to oil and chemically dispersed oil, indicating that functional redundancy in the pre-spill community likely results in hydrocarbon consumption in both undispersed and dispersed oils, but by different bacterial taxa. Taken together, these data improve our understanding of how dispersants influence the degradation and transport of oil in marine surface waters following an oil spill and provide valuable insight into the early response of complex microbial communities to oil exposure.
Project description:Documentation of the near- and long-term effects of the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill, one of the largest environmental disasters in US history, is still ongoing. We used a novel before-after-control-impact analysis to test the hypothesis that average body size of intertidal populations of the eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) inhabiting impacted areas in Louisiana decreased due to increased stress/mortality related to the oil spill. Time-averaged death assemblages of oysters were used to establish a pre-spill baseline of body-size structure for four impacted and four control locations along a 350 km stretch of Louisiana's coastline. Post-spill body sizes were then measured from live oysters at each site in order to evaluate the differences in body size between oiled (i.e. impact) and unoiled (i.e. control) locations before and after the spill. Our results indicate that average body size of oysters remained relatively unchanged after the oil spill. There were also no temporal patterns in temperature, salinity or disease prevalence that could have explained our results. Together, these findings suggest that oysters either recovered rapidly following the immediate impact of the DWH oil spill, or that its impact was not severe enough to influence short-term population dynamics of the oyster beds.
Project description:The experiment was designed to test the interactions of Spartina alterniflora, its microbiome, and the interaction of the plant-microbe relationship with oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (DWH). Total RNA was extracted from leaf and root microbiome of S. alterniflora in soils that were oiled in DWH oil spill with or without added oil, as well as those grown in unoiled soil with or without added oil. The work in its entirety characterizes the transport, fate and catabolic activities of bacterial communities in petroleum-polluted soils and within plant tissues. Overall design: Total RNA was extracted from leaf and root of Spartina alterniflora and converted immediately into cDNA, which was used for GeoChip 5.0S analysis. S. alterniflora was grown in one of the four conditions: DWH-impacted soil with added oil, DWH-impacted soil without added oil, previously unoiled soil with added oil, and previously unoiled soil without added oil (control). Triplicates of leaf and root samples were collected from each S. alterniflora, and thus a total of 24 samples were analyzed on GeoChip.
Project description:In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill adversely impacted many communities along the Gulf of Mexico. Effects on Gulf waters, marshes, aquatic life, and fisheries were evident in the following days, months, and years. Through studying affected communities' perceptions regarding the DWH accident, we aim to identify behavioral changes, understand public information sources, and inform dissemination strategies that improve communications from regulatory agencies. Over a three-year period (2012-2015), residents (n = 192) from 7 coastal parishes in southeast Louisiana were surveyed about their perceptions and behaviors before, during, and after the DWH accident. Self-reported consumption of local seafood decreased significantly (50%) during the DWH oil spill but returned to pre-event reported levels by 2015. However, negative seafood quality perceptions remain and have not returned to what were generally positive pre-event levels. Over 30% of study participants trust relatives, friends, and neighbors more than government officials or scientists as information sources regarding locally harvested seafood. Importantly, nearly 50% of participants report that they lack the information needed to make informed decisions regarding the safety of consuming local seafood. We conclude that a lack of information and trust in government agencies exacerbated negative perceptions of oil spill-related dangers. In some cases, overestimation of perceived dangers likely led to behavioral modifications that persist today. Efforts should be made to improve relationships between public health agencies and communities in order to properly inform all citizens of risks following environmental disasters.
Project description:The massive influx of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico during the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) disaster triggered dramatic microbial community shifts in surface oil slick and deep plume waters. Previous work had shown several taxa, notably DWH Oceanospirillales, Cycloclasticus and Colwellia, were found to be enriched in these waters based on their dominance in conventional clone and pyrosequencing libraries and were thought to have had a significant role in the degradation of the oil. However, this type of community analysis data failed to provide direct evidence on the functional properties, such as hydrocarbon degradation of organisms. Using DNA-based stable-isotope probing with uniformly (13)C-labelled hydrocarbons, we identified several aliphatic (Alcanivorax, Marinobacter)- and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (Alteromonas, Cycloclasticus, Colwellia)-degrading bacteria. We also isolated several strains (Alcanivorax, Alteromonas, Cycloclasticus, Halomonas, Marinobacter and Pseudoalteromonas) with demonstrable hydrocarbon-degrading qualities from surface slick and plume water samples collected during the active phase of the spill. Some of these organisms accounted for the majority of sequence reads representing their respective taxa in a pyrosequencing data set constructed from the same and additional water column samples. Hitherto, Alcanivorax was not identified in any of the previous water column studies analysing the microbial response to the spill and we discuss its failure to respond to the oil. Collectively, our data provide unequivocal evidence on the hydrocarbon-degrading qualities for some of the dominant taxa enriched in surface and plume waters during the DWH oil spill, and a more complete understanding of their role in the fate of the oil.