New Waves April 2011

Breaking news about water resources research and education in Texas

TTU-TIEHH tests Gulf seafood on “Good Morning America” one year after oil spill

Researchers from the Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH) at Texas Tech University found no evidence of petroleum hydrocarbons in samples from a shipment of Louisiana seafood tested specifically for a segment on ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America” during the show’s one-year anniversary oil spill coverage, which aired April 19.

Though these samples were clean, the sample size was small and more research is necessary before the full picture can be seen, said Ron Kendall, TIEHH Director.

“We found the same thing as we did in our August sample report,” Kendall said. “There was no evidence of petroleum hydrocarbons in the low parts-per-billion range. So, in terms of total polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), of which some are known to be toxic or carcinogenic, they were clean. However, everyone should realize the sample size was extremely small and that these data represent just a snapshot of time and space. These samples were collected close to the shore. We don’t know that this may be the case further out at sea. We believe sampling and analyses should continue, and that independent science-based research needs to continue.”

Near shore, Kendall said, wave action, sunlight and shallow water help to break down toxic oil residues. He said little is known about the state of the oil trapped in the water column, mixed with dispersant and/or resting at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Oil may not degrade as easily in deeper waters with less oxygen; and, ultra-violet light can’t reach to aid in breaking down the oil, Kendall said.

Scientists at TIEHH received four male blue crabs, four large oysters, two seawater samples collected below the surface and a redfish. These samples were collected in shallow waters off Grand Isle, LA. The project took five days to complete and was done without support from BP or the United States Federal Government, according to TIEHH.

Read the full Texas Tech News article.

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