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Oakland University Student Danielle Kaminski is Named the Winner of the ASSEF’s Student Paper Competition for Her Report on the Gulf of Mexico ‘Dead Zone’

Posted in , , on Thu, May 17, 2012

DES PLAINES, IL (May 17, 2012) – Oakland University senior Danielle Kaminski has
been named the recipient of the American Society of Safety Engineers’
Foundation’s (ASSEF) 2012 Student Paper Competition for her submission entitled
“Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone.” She will graduate this summer from the Rochester,
MI-based university with a degree in occupational safety and health.

“Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone” addresses the area where
the Mississippi River feeds into the Gulf of Mexico, the inner and
mid-continent between the river and the northern Texas coast known as the “dead
zone.” This name reflects the low oxygen level concentration in the area that
does not allow aquatic life to be sustained, otherwise known as hypoxic water.

Kaminski points out that the primary cause of hypoxic
water is fertilizers that are altered to boost their oxygen used by farmers
along the Mississippi River. This alteration causes the fertilizer to have a
higher concentration of nitrogen and phosphorus. When the nitrogen from the
fertilizer runs off from the river into the Gulf of Mexico, it causes algae growth
and oxygen reduction, restricting the lives of bottom dwellers such as worms,
snails, crabs, clams and lobsters that are not mobile enough to move away from
the oxygen-deprived waters. The sea life that is mobile moves further away from
the shores in order to survive, and it has smaller reproductive organs and
lower egg counts.

In the end, the “dead zone” results in increased
travel for fisherman, increased fuel use, and increased seafood costs.

The ASSEF Student Paper Competition is sponsored in
conjunction with ASSE’s Editorial Review Board. The top-ranked author received
a $500 cash award, and a $700 stipend to attend ASSE’s annual professional
development conference, Safety 2012 in Denver, CO. Kaminski’s paper will also
be considered by the Editorial Review Board for publication in Professional Safety.

“Danielle’s paper presented a very complete view of
the benefits as well as the unintended consequences of one of the current ‘green’
initiatives of using bio-fuels in relation to how the environment is impacted,”
said Frank D’Orsi, CSP, ARM, chair of the Editorial Review Board.

ASSEF established by and in partnership with ASSE,
generates funding and provides resources for scholarships, applied research,
academic accreditation and related academic initiatives in order to advance the
safety, health and environmental profession.
For information on the ASSEF and its programs, visit

Founded in 1911, the Des Plaines, IL-based ASSE is the
oldest professional safety organization and is committed to protecting people,
property and the environment. Its more than 34,000 occupational safety, health
and environmental professional members lead, manage, supervise, research and
consult on safety, health, transportation and environmental issues in all
industries, government, labor, health care and education. For more information
please go to


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