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Respiratory, Dermal, and Eye Irritation Symptoms Associated with Corexit™ EC9527A/EC9500A following the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Findings from the GuLF STUDY

Craig J. McGowan, Richard K. Kwok, Lawrence S. Engel, Mark R. Stenzel, Patricia A. Stewart, and Dale P. Sandler
Environmental Health Perspectives (2017). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP1677 PMID: 28934097


Publication


Abstract

BACKGROUND: The large quantities of chemical oil dispersants used in the oil spill response and cleanup (OSRC) work following the Deepwater Horizon disaster provide an opportunity to study associations between dispersant exposure (Corexit™ EC9500A or EC9527A) and human health.

OBJECTIVES: Our objectives were to examine associations between potential exposure to the dispersants and adverse respiratory, dermal, and eye irritation symptoms.

METHODS: Using data from detailed Gulf Long-term Follow-up ( GuLF) Study enrollment interviews, we determined potential exposure to either dispersant from participant-reported tasks during the OSRC work. Between 27,659 and 29,468 participants provided information on respiratory, dermal, and eye irritation health. We estimated prevalence ratios (PRs) to measure associations with symptoms reported during the OSRC work and at study enrollment, adjusting for potential confounders including airborne total hydrocarbons exposure, use of cleaning chemicals, and participant demographics.

RESULTS: Potential exposure to either of the dispersants was significantly associated with all health outcomes at the time of the OSRC, with the strongest association for burning in the nose, throat, or lungs [adjusted PR (aPR)=1.61 (95% CI: 1.42, 1.82)], tightness in chest [aPR=1.58 (95% CI: 1.37, 1.81)], and burning eyes [aPR=1.48 (95% CI: 1.35, 1.64). Weaker, but still significant, associations were found between dispersant exposure and symptoms present at enrollment.

CONCLUSIONS: Potential exposure to Corexit™ EC9527A or EC9500A was associated with a range of health symptoms at the time of the OSRC, as well as at the time of study enrollment, 1-3 y after the spill.

Tables


Table 1. Enrollment characteristics of each analysis population.

Table 2. Symptoms at spill response associated with dispersant exposure (GuLF STUDY, 2011–2013).

Table 3. Respiratory and eye irritation symptoms at the time of spill response.

Respiratory and eye irritation symptoms at the time of spill response associated with dispersant exposure, differentiating exposure by direct or indirect exposure (GuLF STUDY 2011–2013).

Table 4. Symptoms within 30 days of study enrollment associated with dispersant exposure.

Symptoms within 30 days of study enrollment associated with dispersant exposure (GuLF STUDY, 2011–2013).

Supplemental Materials


Supplemental Material