The April 20, 2010, explosion and collapse of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico resulted in the release of millions of barrels of oil into Gulf waters. The response to this disaster involved the efforts of tens of thousands of workers in a variety of capacities across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Texas, and in the Gulf of Mexico itself. The diverse work included oil and tar ball removal from beaches, oil skimming and booming near shores, burning of surface oil near the source of the oil release, surface application of dispersant by vessels and aircraft, and containment and recovery work on vessels at the release site. The nature of these activities raised concerns about potential occupational exposures to chemical and physical hazards and mental stressors. NIOSH investigators conducted health hazard evaluations (HHEs) of Deepwater Horizon Response onshore and offshore workers. The goals of the NIOSH HHE assessments were to describe acute health effects, evaluate occupational exposures in qualitative or quantitative assessments, and generate hypotheses regarding symptoms potentially related to work activities. Environmental air samples were collected in support of the goals. NIOSH investigators conducted the following exposure evaluations: 1.We conducted evaluations on board vessels releasing dispersant. These vessels were deployed to perform small-scale releases of dispersant in an area with surface oil contamination. 2.We assessed exposures during in-situ (i.e., on site) burns of surface oil. 3.We assessed exposures on fishing and shrimping trawlers in the Vessels of Opportunity (VoO) program that were assigned to remove surface oil by booming and skimming. 4.We assessed exposures aboard vessels located at the Deepwater Horizon incident site. 5.We assessed exposures during boom and vessel decontamination operations. Data Collection Methods: Personal breathing zone and general area air samples were analyzed using methods from the NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM) [http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2003-154/],
the Occupational Safety and Health Administration [http://www.osha.gov/dts/sltc/methods/],
and the Environmental Protection Agency [http://www.epa.gov/ttn/amtic/airtox.html].
The method used to analyze each sample is identified in the dataset. NIOSH investigators used direct-reading instrumentation to evaluate exposures to carbon monoxide Direct reading-GasAlert CO Extream, BW Technologies Ltd., Calgary Canada] and hydrogen sulfide [Direct reading-GasAlert H2S Extream, BW Technologies Ltd., Calgary Canada]. NIOSH investigators collected short-term air samples which represented exposure during specific activities or work tasks, long-term air samples which more closely represented full-shift occupational exposures, or both during an exposure evaluation.