The Gulf of Mexico experienced a large disastrous oil spill caused by an explosion April 20, 2010 on the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil platform located about 50 miles southeast of the Mississippi River delta. Oil gushed for 87 days (until July 15th) from the wellhead 5,000 feet (1,500 m) below the ocean surface at an estimated 20,000 - 40,000 barrels a day. The total amount spilled is estimated to be approximately 184,755,550 gallons, which is enough oil to fill 307 olympic-size swimming pools.

This environmental disaster has been devastating to marine and wildlife habitats, as well as the Gulf of Mexico fishing and tourism industries, which have been the livelihood of these coastal communities.

EHSC initially supported Dr. Kim Anderson’s research related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill through a pilot project in 2010. This allowed her research team to immediately travel to the Gulf and gather pre-spill data. In 2011, Dr. Anderson was awarded the R21 grant (ES020120) “BRIDGES for Evaluation of Health Outcomes, Repercussions and Impacts in Zones of Oil-Spills in Nature” involving community outreach projects. The project employed passive sampling devices (PSDs) in the Gulf of Mexico to measure contaminants from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in an effort to connect environmental exposures with biological response.

On Jan. 29, 2013, LSU hosted “Response, Recovery, and Resilience to Oil Spills and Environmental Disasters: Engaging Experts and Communities,” a symposium and workshop for community stakeholders, researchers and policy makers to enhance communication between experts and citizens, encouraging better monitoring and sharing of information concerning local environmental conditions following disasters. Sponsors include the LSU Superfund Research Program; the LSU Department of Environmental Sciences; the Oregon State University, or OSU, Superfund Research Program; and the OSU Environmental Health Sciences Center. The LSU and OSU Superfund Research Programs are funded by the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, or NIEHS. View Presentations and resources. 

Videos were produced in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese to educate the communities living in the Gulf:

The Map shows the coastal locations of the air and water sampling.


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Anderson is using air and water passive sampler devices (PSDs) in the Gulf of Mexico before, during and post impact from the Deepwater Horizon Spill. She uses complementary bio-analytical tools that quantify bioavailability processes to understand disasters such as oil spill risk.

View the video below to get a better idea of the sampling instruments and sites.

This project is a collaborative effort between EHSC and the Superfund Research Program (SRP) at OSU. For more information, see the links below from the SRP site.

Dr. Kim Anderson and her lab discuss the research using bioanalytical tools to analyze PAHs in the environment on Green Science Oregon episode 9.1.