Healthy Gulf, Healthy Communities

The fifth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which resulted in a loss of eleven lives and substantial environmental and economic losses for residents along the Gulf Coast region, is April 20, 2015. In the aftermath of the spill, A University of Florida (UF) led team of researchers has been studying the physiological, psychological and sociological effects in order to help communities recover and prepare for future potential disasters.

The team of biologists, psychologists, social scientists and members of affected communities is ready to release findings from a research project to address the environmental, economical and emotional health concerns in Florida and Alabama Gulf Coast communities as a result of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill.

In 2011, UF became the lead institution on one of four Deepwater Horizon Research Consortia grants funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a sub-agency of the National Institutes of Health. The focus of the UF-led consortium is community based participatory research combined with laboratory research in communities impacted by the DWH oil spill. The five-year, $6.5 million grant, entitled Healthy Gulf, Healthy Communities (HGHC): Health Impact of Deepwater Horizon Spill in Eastern Gulf Coast Communities, includes researchers from five large universities, UF, Arizona State University, University of Maryland, University of New Orleans and University of West Florida, and is led by Dr. J. Glenn Morris, Jr., director of the Emerging Pathogens Institute at UF.

The HGHC project includes three distinct research areas: individual and family resiliency, led by Dr. Lynn Grattan with the University of Maryland; community resiliency, led by Dr. Brian Mayer with Arizona State University; and seafood safety, led by Dr. Andy Kane with UF. Project sites stretch along the Florida-Alabama coastline and include communities that were directly and indirectly impacted by oil from the spill. Areas of study include coastal communities in Levy, Dixie, Franklin, Santa Rosa and Escambia counties in Fla. and Baldwin County in Ala.