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A cross-divisional department spanning

Dr. Kirsten Koehler Faculty Research

Exposures from Oil Spills

Potential implications for human health have predominantly focused on contaminated seafood consumption or mental health.

Few studies have considered the implications for cleanup workers and nearby residents, and little is known about hazards to human health from exposure to crude oil and dispersants. Much work is needed to determine exposure routes, chemical species, and toxicological pathways. Since dispersants enhance the generation of aerosolized micron-size oil droplets from the ocean, this increases their residence time in the atmosphere and their potential for human and wildlife inhalation.

Our work will characterize the size, concentration, and chemical content of these droplets, model their transport and respiratory deposition, and determine effects of oil and biofilms on epithelial lung cells.

Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative

The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) has selected 12 research consortia to conduct scientific studies of the impacts of oil, dispersed oil, and dispersant on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and public health. These research investments focus on improving our fundamental understanding of the implications of events such as the Macondo well blowout, and on developing improved spill mitigation, oil and gas detection, characterization and remediation technologies. The consortia were chosen following a competitive, merit review process that evaluated research applications submitted to GoMRI in response to its RFP-IV program solicitation"... read more.

As part of the Mexico Research Initiative, Dr. Koehler's lab will collaborate with Lead Investigator Edward Buskey Research of the University of Texas at Austin on “Dispersion Research on Oil: Physics and Plankton Studies.”