Estimates of Inhalation Exposures among Land Workers during the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Clean-up Operations

Tran B. Huynh, Caroline P. Groth, Gurumurthy Ramachandran, Sudipto Banerjee, Mark Stenzel, Aaron Blair, Dale P. Sandler, Lawrence S. Engel, Richard K. Kwok, Patricia A. Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, thousands of workers and volunteers cleaned the shoreline across four coastal states of the Gulf of Mexico. For the GuLF STUDY, we developed quantitative estimates of oil-related chemical exposures [total petroleum hydrocarbons (THC), benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene, and n-hexane (BTEX-H)] from personal measurements on workers performing various spill clean-up operations on land. These operations included decontamination of vessels, equipment, booms, and personnel; handling of oily booms; hazardous waste management; beach, marsh, and jetty clean-up; aerial missions; wildlife rescue and rehabilitation; and administrative support activities. Exposure estimates were developed for unique groups of workers by (i) activity, (ii) state, and (iii) time period. Estimates of the arithmetic means (AMs) for THC ranged from 0.04 to 3.67 ppm. BTEX-H estimates were substantially lower than THC (in the parts per billion range). Both THC and BTEX-H estimates were substantially lower than their respective occupational exposure limits. The work group, 'Fueled engines' consistently was one of the higher exposed groups to THC and BTEX-H. Notable differences in the AM exposures were observed by activity, time and, to a lesser degree, by state. These exposure estimates were used to develop job-exposure matrices for the GuLF STUDY.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)I124-I139
JournalAnnals of Work Exposures and Health
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Occupational Hygiene Society.


  • BTEX
  • Bayesian methods
  • Deepwater Horizon
  • hexane
  • oil spill
  • total hydrocarbons


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