Top 5 Takeaways

  1. Widespread Health Impact: Following a petroleum leak at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, 1,980 of 2,289 surveyed participants reported new or worsened health symptoms, indicating a significant impact on civilian and military households.
  2. High Participation in Surveys: The survey saw participation from 1,389 households, leveraging both electronic and in-person outreach, reflecting about 14% of the approximately 9,694 affected households.
  3. Diverse Symptoms Reported: Participants most commonly reported symptoms related to the nervous and gastrointestinal systems, with many experiencing prolonged effects. A notable 80% reported symptom improvement after switching to an alternative water source.
  4. Medical Interventions: There were 853 individuals who sought medical care due to the incident, including 17 who required hospitalization, highlighting the severity of some cases.
  5. Concerns About Long-Term Effects: Despite some improvements, 53 participants expressed concerns about potential long-term health consequences of the petroleum exposure.

Original Article Author and Citation

Corresponding Author

Alyssa N. Troeschel,

Suggested Citation

Troeschel AN, Gerhardstein B, Poniatowski A, et al. Notes from the Field: Self-Reported Health Symptoms Following Petroleum Contamination of a Drinking Water System — Oahu, Hawaii, November 2021–February 2022. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2022;71:718–719.DOI:


In November 2021, a petroleum leak contaminated the drinking water system of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, affecting thousands of households in Oahu, Hawaii. This led to widespread health concerns among the residents, who reported various symptoms from exposure to the contaminated water.


An online survey, adapted from the ATSDR’s ACE toolkit and modified for self-administration, was conducted to collect data on exposure, symptoms, and medical care. The survey was available from January 7 to February 10, 2022, and utilized ArcGIS Pro and U.S. Navy data for household-level response rate calculations.


The survey results indicated substantial health impacts consistent with symptoms of petroleum hydrocarbon exposure. The data collected did not allow for prevalence estimates but provided valuable insights into the acute health effects of the contamination.


The incident underscores the importance of swift public health responses and the effectiveness of community engagement in emergency health data collection. Future follow-ups might help clarify the long-term health impacts and improve response strategies for similar incidents.

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