The public often asks "Is Gulf seafood safe to eat after the Deepwater Horizon spill?" Short answer: Yes. So long as we're not eating gallbladders or fish livers. Susan Snyder studies ecotoxicology at the University of South Florida-College of Marine Science where she takes tissues and bile from fish and analyzes the amount of oil in them. Susan is the C-IMAGE Student of the Month for November 2016!
Susan's research focuses on how sick a fish gets when it is exposed to oil, specifically exposure to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), the larger and more toxic components of oil. Her research on PAH Exposure in Gulf of Mexico Demersal Fishes, Post-Deepwater Horizon in Environmental Science and Technology.
What is the focus of your research? How will your findings contribute to the overall understanding of oil spills or oil spill response?
I measure polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in fish tissues. PAHs are the toxic and persistent component of oil. We measure PAH metabolites in fish bile to get a level of short-term (days) exposure to oil. The idea behind this method is similar to a urinalysis drug test of a human. We also measure PAH levels in fish liver and muscle tissue to understand accumulation of these contaminants. Chronic exposure and accumulation of PAHs is linked with negative health effects in fish, such as liver cancer.