Dissertations & Theses (Open Access)

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Kai Zhang

Second Advisor

Ruosha Li

Third Advisor

William B. Perkison


The objective of this study was to estimate the relationship between heat stress and pulmonary function among OSRC workers following the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) disaster. Methods: Pulmonary function test results were analyzed from a cohort of oil spill response and cleanup workers 1-3 years following the DWH disaster (N=5,131). Proxies for heat stress was employed by using information on heat stress-related symptoms as well as a questionnaire on stopping work due to heat reported during a structured telephone enrollment questionnaire. Associations between heat stress proxies and lung function were estimated using multivariable linear models and binomial logistic regression models while adjusting for potential confounders including oil spill chemicals. Results: A suggestive inverse relationship was observed between having experienced any type of heat stress-related symptom at the time of the oil spill and the FEV1/FVC% ratio (beta: -0.17%; 95% CI: -0.54 to 0.21) among workers with acceptable quality scores on spirometry tests and complete exposure and covariate information. Conclusions: Workers with pre-spill hypertension or other cardiometabolic conditions may be at increased risk of reduced pulmonary function due to heat stress.