Designing Science in a Crisis: The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Office of Research and Development, US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, USA.
Environmental Science & Technology (Impact Factor: 5.33). 11/2010; 44(24):9250-1. DOI: 10.1021/es103700x
Source: PubMed

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    • "The NexGen project included a series of case study prototypes to evaluate the extent to which new techniques in risk science listed in Supplemental Material, Table S1, are beginning to find application (Table 2). Tier 1 prototypes involve the screening and ranking of tens of thousands of chemical substances (Cote et al. 2012), the tagging of data-poor chemicals by determining biological pathway altering dose (BPAD) (Judson et al. 2011; Wetmore et al. 2012, 2013), and the ability to make quick decisions in disaster situations such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (Anastas et al. 2010). The combination of catalogued data along with HTS allows for the analysis of short-term effects and addresses the question as to which oil dispersant(s) would be most eco-friendly in this environment (Judson et al. 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: In 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency initiated the NexGen project to develop a new paradigm for the next generation of risk science. The NexGen framework was built on three cornerstones: the availability of new data on toxicity pathways made possible by fundamental advances in basic biology and toxicological science; the incorporation of a population health perspective that recognizes that most adverse health outcomes involve multiple determinants; and a renewed focus on new risk assessment methodologies designed to better inform risk management decision making. The NexGen framework has three phases. Phase I (objectives) focuses on problem formulation and scoping, taking into account the risk context and the range of available risk management decision making options. Phase II (risk assessment) seeks to identify critical toxicity pathway perturbations using new toxicity testing tools and technologies, and to better characterize risks and uncertainties using advanced risk assessment methodologies. A blueprint for pathway-based toxicity testing was provided by the 2007 U.S. National Research Council (NRC) report, Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy; guidance on new risk assessment methods is provided by the 2009 NRC report, Science and Decisions, Advancing Risk Assessment. Phase III (risk management) involves the development of evidence-based population health risk management strategies of a regulatory, economic, advisory, community-based, or technological nature, using sound principles of risk management decision making. Analysis of a series of case-study prototypes indicated that many aspects of the NexGen framework are already beginning to be adopted in practice.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2014 · Environmental Health Perspectives
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    • "An area contaminated with these pollutants can cause problems, including risks to human health, impaired quality of water resources, restrictions on land use, and serious damage to biota. There have been several oil spills around the world (Anastas et al. 2010; Aps et al. 2009; Davidson et al. 2008). Accidents often occur close to large population centers and impair the quality of life of the local inhabitants, as well as the economy (Oliveira 2004). "
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    ABSTRACT: The petroleum industry activities provide potential risks to the environment because they can contaminate ecosystems with different organic compounds in the production chain. Several accidents with transport and handling of petroleum and related products occurred in urban areas with harmful effects to the quality of life and economy. In the 1990s, bioremediation and phytoremediation technologies as economically feasible alternatives to repair the environmental damage were developed. In this study, the potential of the willows Salix rubens and Salix triandra were evaluated with regard to the phytoremediation of soils contaminated with petroleum-derived hydrocarbons (total hydrocarbons and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)). The PAHs were quantified by extraction from soils and plants using dichloromethane under ultrasonication. The HPLC analysis was performed with GC/MSD equipment. The total hydrocarbons present in uncontaminated soil were quantified by the sum of animal/vegetable oils and greases and mineral oils and greases according to Standard Methods 5520 (1997). The two willows species S. rubens and S. triandra were resistant during the project development. In the contaminated soil, in which both species were planted, the total hydrocarbons concentration was reduced near 98 %. The PAHs content was remarkably reduced as well. Pyrene showed an initial concentration of 23.06 μg kg−1, decreasing in most cases to 0.1 μg kg−1 or to undetectable levels. Chrysene decreased from 126.27 μg kg−1 to undetectable levels. Benzo[k]fluoranthene and benzo[a]pyrene concentrations had also showed a decrease from 28.44 and 3.82 μg kg−1, respectively, to undetectable levels.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2012 · Water Air and Soil Pollution
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    • "These choices are made by carefully weighing the potential benefits of the intervention against possible collateral harm, with the realization that intervention could cause more harm than good (Ritchie 1995). Assessing such trade-offs is made difficult by imperfect knowledge (Anastas et al. 2010) of both the effectiveness of the intervention and the risk of unintended damages. Mesocosm and laboratory experiments can provide useful insights, and some compelling experimental test designs have been developed and applied in the field following oil spills. "
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    ABSTRACT: The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil release posed the challenges of two types of spill: a familiar spill characterized by buoyant oil, fouling and killing organisms at the sea surface and eventually grounding on and damaging sensitive shoreline habitats, and a novel deepwater spill involving many unknowns. The subsurface retention of oil as finely dispersed droplets and emulsions, wellhead injection of dispersants, and deepwater retention of plumes of natural gas undergoing rapid microbial degradation were unprecedented and demanded the development of a new model for deepwater well blowouts that includes subsurface consequences. Existing governmental programs and policies had not anticipated this new theater of impacts, which thereby challenged decisionmaking on the spill response, on the assessment of natural resource damages, on the preparation for litigation to achieve compensation for public trust losses, and on restoration. Modification of laws and policies designed to protect and restore ocean resources is needed in order to accommodate oil drilling in the deep sea and other frontiers.
    Full-text · Article · May 2012 · BioScience
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