Concept: Galveston, Texas
The 2010 British Petroleum (BP) Deepwater Horizon oil spill highlighted long-standing questions about energy exploration and its social and environmental implications. Sociologists studying environmental disasters have documented the social impacts resulting from these events and dissatisfaction with government and industry responses. In this paper, we use data from a survey conducted during the Gulf of Mexico oil spill to examine how Louisiana and Florida residents' social backgrounds, experiences with the spill, and trust in information sources predict their perceptions of governmental and BP response efforts. We find that direct personal impacts and compensation strongly influence the evaluations of responding organizations. Age and place of residence also predict such assessments. Finally, levels of confidence in television news and BP as sources of information appear to shape Gulf Coast residents' opinions about the work of organizations responding to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Objectives: To evaluate key attributes, strengths, and limitations of the American Red Cross (ARC) disaster-related mortality surveillance system implemented during Hurricane Ike in Texas 2008, and to provide recommendations for system improvement. Methods: We evaluated key attributes of the ARC mortality surveillance system. Evaluation included interviews with stakeholders and linking ARC data with the Texas Department of State Health Services' (DSHS) system for comparison. Results: During September 11 through October 6, 2008, the ARC identified 38 deaths, whereas DSHS identified 74 deaths related to Hurricane Ike (sensitivity = 47%; positive predictive value = 92%). The ARC had complete data on 61% to 92% of deaths, and an 83% to 97% concordance was observed between the 2 systems for key variables. Conclusions: The ARC surveillance system is simple, flexible, and stable. We recommend establishing written guidelines to improve data quality and representativeness. As an important supporting agency in disaster situations and the sole source of data regarding disaster-related mortality in multiple states, improvement of the ARC system will benefit stakeholders and promote dissemination of useful information for preventing future deaths.
The current study examined rates of comorbidity among children’s symptoms of posttraumatic stress (PTS) and depression after a natural disaster, Hurricane Ike. We also compared children with comorbid symptoms to children without comorbid symptoms, examining recovery, severity of symptoms, and risk factors.
Long-term meteorologically independent trend analysis of ozone air quality at an urban site in the greater Houston area
- Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association (1995)
- Published about 2 years ago
The Houston-Galveston-Brazoria (HGB) area of Texas has a history of ozone exceedances and is currently classified under moderate nonattainment status for the 2008 8-hr ozone standard of 75 ppb. The HGB area is characterized by intense solar radiation, high temperature, and humidity, which influence day-to-day variations in ozone concentrations. Long-term air quality trends independent of meteorological influence need to be constructed for ascertaining the effectiveness of air quality management in this area. The Kolmogorov-Zurbenko (KZ) filter technique used to separate different scales of motion in a time series, is applied in the current study for maximum daily 8-hr (MDA8) ozone concentrations at an urban site (EPA AQS Site ID: 48-201-0024, Aldine) in the HGB area. This site located within 10 miles of downtown Houston and the George Bush Intercontinental Airport, was selected for developing long-term meteorologically independent MDA8 ozone trends for the years 1990-2016. Results from this study indicate a consistent decrease in meteorologically independent MDA8 ozone between 2000-2016. This pattern could be partially attributed to a reduction in underlying NOX emissions, particularly that of lowering nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels, and a decrease in the release of highly reactive volatile organic compounds (HRVOC). Results also suggest solar radiation to be most strongly correlated to ozone, with temperature being the secondary meteorological control variable. Relative humidity and wind speed have tertiary influence at this site. This study observed that meteorological variability accounts for a high of 61% variability in baseline ozone (low-frequency component, sum of long-term and seasonal components), while 64% of the change in long-term MDA8 ozone post-2000 could be attributed to NOX emissions reduction. Long-term MDA8 ozone trend component was estimated to be decreasing at a linear rate of 0.412 ± 0.007 ppb/yr for the years 2000-2016, and 0.155 ± 0.005 ppb/yr for the overall period of 1990-2016. Implications Statement The effectiveness of air emission controls can be evaluated by developing long-term air quality trends independent of meteorological influences. KZ filter technique is a well-established method to separate an air quality time-series into: short-term, seasonal and long-term components. This paper applies the KZ filter technique to MDA8 ozone data between 1990-2016 at an urban site in the Greater Houston area and estimates the variance accounted for, by the primary meteorological control variables. Estimates for linear trends of MDA8 ozone are calculated and underlying causes are investigated to provide a guidance for further investigation into air quality management of the Greater Houston Area.
This study explored the experiences and needs of older adults during and following Hurricane Ike.
The industrialized portion of the Houston Ship Channel (HSC) is heavily contaminated with anthropogenic contaminants, most prominent of which are the polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). This contamination has driven adaptive evolution in a keystone species for Galveston Bay, the Gulf killifish (Fundulus grandis). We investigated the geographical extent of PCB impacts by sampling 12 sites, ranging from the heavily industrialized upper portion of the HSC to Galveston Island. At each site, PCB concentrations and profiles were determined in three environmental compartments: sediment, water (polyethylene passive samplers), and fish tissue (resident Gulf killifish). We observed a steep gradient of PCB contamination, ranging from 4.00 to 100,000 ng/g organic carbon in sediment, 290-110,000 ng/g lipid in fish, and 4.5-2300 ng/g polyethylene in passive samplers. The PCB congener profiles in Gulf killifish at the most heavily contaminated sites were shifted toward the higher chlorinated PCBs and were highly similar to the sediment contamination profiles. In addition, while magnitude of total PCB concentrations in sediment and total fish contamination levels were highly correlated between sites, the relative PCB congener profiles in fish and passive samplers were more alike. This strong correlation, along with a lack of dependency of biota-sediment accumulation factors with total contamination rates, confirm the likely non-migratory nature of Gulf killifish and suggest their contamination levels are a good site-specific indicator of contamination in the Galveston Bay area. The spatial gradient of PCB contamination in Galveston Bay was evident in all three matrices studied and was observed effectively using Gulf killifish contamination as an environmentally relevant bioindicator of localized contamination in this environment.
Hurricanes can cause widespread environmental pollution that has yet to be fully articulated. This study develops a predictive water quality model to forecast potential contamination resulting from buckled or ruptured storage tanks in coastal industrialized areas when subjected to storm surge. The developed EFDC-Storm Surge model (EFDC-SS) couples EPA’s EFDC code with the SWAN-ADCIRC hurricane simulation model. EFDC-SS is demonstrated using the Houston Ship Channel in Texas as a testbed and hurricane Ike as a model hurricane. Conservative and decaying dye runs evaluated various hurricane scenarios, combined with spills released at different locations and release times. Results showed that tank locations with shorter distances to the main waterbody and lower ground elevations have a higher risk of inundation and rapid spill mass transport. It was also determined that hurricane strength and landfall location, the location of the spill, and the spill release time relative to peak surge were interdependent.
Recovery after hurricane events encourages new development activities and allows reconstruction through the conversion of naturally occurring wetlands to other land uses. This research investigates the degree to which hurricane recovery activities in coastal communities are undermining the ability of these places to attenuate the impacts of future storm events. Specifically, it explores how and to what extent wetlands are being affected by the CWA Section 404 permitting program in the context of post-Hurricane Ike 2008 recovery. Wetland alteration patterns are examined by selecting a control group (Aransas and Brazoria counties with no hurricane impact) vs. study group (Chambers and Galveston counties with hurricane impact) research design with a pretest-posttest measurement analyzing the variables such as permit types, pre-post Ike permits, land cover classes, and within-outside the 100-year floodplain. Results show that permitting activities in study group have increased within the 100-year floodplain and palustrine wetlands continue to be lost compare to the control group. Simultaneously, post-Ike individual and nationwide permits increased in the Hurricane Ike impacted area. A binomial logistic regression model indicated that permits within the study group, undeveloped land cover class, and individual and nationwide permit type have a substantial effect on post-Ike permits, suggesting that post-Ike permits have significant impact on wetland losses. These findings indicate that recovery after the hurricane is compromising ecological resiliency in coastal communities. The study outcome may be applied to policy decisions in managing wetlands during a long-term recovery process to maintain natural function for future flood mitigation.
Hurricane Ike, the third costliest hurricane in US history, made landfall in the Galveston Bay Area in September, 2008. Existing literature postulates that maladaptive behavior such as increased alcohol use is often exhibited by disaster survivors in coping with both disaster-related traumatic events and post-disaster stressful events. In addition, it has also been postulated that survivors' perceptions of social cohesion and social control can potentially serve to moderate such behavior. The purpose of this paper is to study such hypotheses for Hurricane Ike. In particular, we investigate the following four hypotheses: (H1) There is an increase of alcohol use by survivors of Hurricane Ike in the Galveston Bay Area; (H2) There are positive associations between both Ike-related trauma and post-Ike stress events and the increase in alcohol use; (H3) There are negative associations between both perceived social cohesion and social control and the increase in alcohol use following Ike; and finally that (H4) perceived social cohesion and social control serve to moderate the associations between both Ike-related trauma and post-Ike stress events and increased alcohol use after Ike. Using public use survey-weighted data from the Galveston Bay Recovery Study (GBRS) of Ike survivors (N = 658), we tested these hypotheses using logistic regressions controlling for other key socioeconomic variables. Our results confirm H1 and H2. Hypotheses H3 and H4 are partially confirmed with respect to social control, but show that (i) there is a positive association between perceived social cohesion and the increase in alcohol use following Ike, and that (ii) while perceived social cohesion and social control do moderate the association between post-Ike stress events and increased alcohol use, they have no effect on the association between Ike-related trauma and increased alcohol use.
Migratory waterfowl may play a role in the ecology and transmission of zoonotic pathogens, given their ability to travel long distances and their use of varied habitats. Our objectives were to estimate the prevalence of Salmonella among waterfowl along the Texas Gulf coast and to characterize the isolates. Faecal samples were collected from hunter-harvested waterfowl at four wildlife management areas from September through November, 2016. Standard bacteriologic culture methods were used to isolate Salmonella from samples, and isolates were characterized by serotyping and anti-microbial susceptibility testing. The apparent prevalence of faecal Salmonella shedding was 0.5% (2/375). Serotypes identified were Thompson and Braenderup, and both isolates were susceptible to all anti-microbial agents tested. Although faecal contamination of agricultural fields or surface waters could serve as a potential source of zoonotic Salmonella transmission, waterfowl along the Gulf coast during the fall hunting season appear to pose minimal risk.