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Assessing the Impact of the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill
When the Gulf of Mexico oil spill began in 2010, the FDA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Gulf coast states took unprecedented steps to ensure that the seafood harvested from the Gulf was safe -- first by closing areas exposed to the oil and then by establishing a reopening protocol designed to ensure that seafood from any given area was safe from harmful oil and dispersant residues before the area reopened to harvest.
The following is information related to steps taken in assessing the impact of the oil spill and reopening harvest waters.
DWH Comparison Levels of Select Metals at Mussel Watch Sites
- Arsenic – January 20, 2012 (PDF: 436KB)
- Cadmium - January 20, 2012 (PDF: 436KB)
- Copper - January 20, 2012 (PDF: 436KB)
- Lead - January 20, 2012 (PDF: 442KB)
- Nickel - January 20, 2012 (PDF: 434KB)
- Selenium - January 20, 2012 (PDF: 453KB)
- Vanadium - January 20, 2012 (PDF: 155KB)
DWH Phase III Surveillance Samples - Metals: October 12, 2010 to June 21, 2011 (PDF: 22KB) - FDA tested samples of crab, oysters, and shrimp collected from harvest areas that had been closed due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and subsequently reopened, to determine if the seafood contained elevated levels of arsenic, cadmium, lead, or mercury. The observed levels were then compared to baseline levels from samples that were collected prior to the oil spill or from areas that were not directly impacted by the oil spill. FDA's testing showed that the levels of arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury were consistent with the background levels found in seafood not impacted by the oil spill and do not present a public health concern.
Background on Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) and Testing Methods
- New Alternative Method for PAH Detection in Seafood (PDF: 377KB)
- Questions & Answers: New Testing Method for Chemical Analysis of Seafood Samples for Presence of Oil Residues
- Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons Information from Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)
- Investigation of Corexit® 9500 Dispersant in Gulf of Mexico Seafood Species (PDF: 576 KB)
Background on Dioctyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate (DOSS) and Testing Methods
- Press Release: NOAA and FDA Announce Chemical Test for Dispersant in Gulf Seafood October 29, 2010
- PAH and DOSS Results Summary From FDA Testing Labs (PDF: 85KB)
- New Method for DOSS Detection in Seafood (PDF: 201KB)
- Level of Concerns for DOSS (PDF: 345KB)
- FDA Letter to Fish and Fishery Products Industry Regarding the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill (PDF: 1.50MB)
- May 14, 2010 FDA Memo on Chemical Dispersants Used in the Gulf Oil Spill (PDF: 1.07MB)
- Seafood Safety and Dispersants Fact Sheet (PDF: 95KB)
- NOAA Interactive Map - Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA)
- Deepwater Horizon Images on Flickr
- NASA images
- Fish and Wildlife Service Maps
- Oil Spill Cam - Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming