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Assessing the Impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: The National Status and Trends Program Response. A Summary Report of Coastal Contamination.

Author(s): Apeti, D., D. Whitall, G. Lauenstein, T. McTigue, K. Kimbrough, A. Jacob, and A. Mason.

NCCOS Center: CCMA (

Name of Publisher: NOAA

Place of Publication: Silver Spring, MD

Publication Type: NOAA Technical Memoranda

Date of Publication: 2013

Reference Information: NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 167

Extent of Work: 16 pp.

Abstract: NOAA’s National Status and Trends Program (NS&T) collected oyster tissue and sediments for quantification of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and petroleum associated metals before and after the landfall of oil from the Deepwater Horizon incident of 2010. These new pre- and post- landfall measurements were put into a historical context by comparing them to data collected in the region over three decades during Mussel Watch monitoring. Overall, the levels of PAHs in both sediment and oysters both pre- and post-landfall were within the range of historically observed values for the Gulf of Mexico. Some specific sites did have elevated PAH levels. While those locations generally correspond to areas in which oil reached coastal areas, it cannot be conclusively stated that the contamination is due to oiling from the Deepwater Horizon incident at these sites due to the survey nature of these sampling efforts. Instead, our data indicate locations along the coast where intensive investigation of hydrocarbon contamination should be undertaken. Post-spill concentrations of oil-related trace metals (V, Hg, Ni) were generally within historically observed ranges for a given site, however, nickel and vanadium were elevated at some sites including areas in Mississippi Sound and Galveston, Terrebonne, Mobile, Pensacola, and Apalachicola Bays. No oyster tissue metal body burden exceeded any of the United States Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) shellfish permissible action levels for human consumption.

Availability: Online.

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