Heart Attack Among Oil Spill Workers 5 Years After Deepwater Horizon Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Strelitz, Jean
    • Affiliation: Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Epidemiology
  • Introduction: The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was the largest marine oil spill in history. Exposures to total hydrocarbons from fresh and burning oil during clean-up of the oil spill, as well as stress due to the oil spill, may have increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) among clean-up workers and Gulf Coast communities. Objective: Assess the associations of duration of clean-up work, residence proximity to the oil spill, and total hydrocarbon (THC) exposure with heart attack over 5 years of follow-up. Methods: The Gulf Long Term Follow-up (GuLF) STUDY is a cohort study of the human health impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Among respondents with two GuLF STUDY interviews (n=21,256), we estimated hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (95%CI) for heart attack (self-reported myocardial infarction, or fatal CHD) associated with duration of clean-up work, residence proximity to the spill, and total hydrocarbon (THC) exposure. We weighted the study population to account for differences between those who did (n=21,256) and did not (n=10,353) complete the second interview. Results: Maximum THC exposure levels >0.30ppm were associated with heart attack [marginal HR (95% CI) for ≥3.00ppm=1.81 (1.11, 2.95)], as was living in proximity to the oil spill (vs. living further away) [1.30 (1.01-1.67)]. Work duration >180 days (vs. 1-30 days) was suggestively associated with heart attack [1.41 (0.89-2.21)]. Associations were robust to censoring. Conclusions: In this first study to assess heart attack risk in relation to oil spills, maximum THC exposure and living in proximity to the spill were associated with heart attack, and risks persisted across the 5-year study period.
Date of publication
Resource type
  • Gammon, Marilie D.
  • Heiss, Gerardo
  • Richardson, David
  • Kwok, Richard
  • Engel, Lawrence
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2018

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