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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 11/30/10

Scientists Confirm that Dispersants Are Increasing Contamination in the Gulf

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From Washington's Blog

I have repeatedly documented the detrimental impacts of dispersants on humans, wildlife and seafood safety. See this, this, this, this, this, this and this.

As I noted in September, scientists from Oregon State University found elevated levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the Gulf, and blamed dispersants.

Now, the website of the prestigious Journal Nature is also reporting on the increase of PAH contamination due to the use of dispersants in the Gulf:

Peter Hodson, an aquatic toxicologist from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, presented his case on 9 November at a meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in Portland, Oregon"

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The problem, explains Hodson, is that the dispersed cloud of microscopic oil droplets allows the PAHs to contaminate a volume of water 1001,000 times greater than if the oil were confined to a floating surface slick. This hugely increases the exposure of wildlife to the dispersed oil. "

Worse, the toxic constituents of oil hang around longer than other components, another speaker told the meeting. "This idea that there's an oil biodegradation rate doesn't hold," says Ronald Atlas, a microbiologist at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, who has studied the aftermath of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska. Alkanes, the simple hydrocarbons that comprise the bulk of oil, are degraded more readily than the PAHs, he points out.

As the Press Register notes:

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"These chemicals, these are PAHs that are carcinogenic. " These items are not in any way appropriate for anyone to eat," said Ed Cake, an environmental consultant from Ocean Springs. "There's no low-dose level that's acceptable to eat.""

[William Sawyer], the [veteran] Florida toxicologist, said the government tests do not look for total petroleum hydrocarbons in the seafood. He said his tests of Gulf shrimp have shown unsafe levels of the compounds, which can cause liver or kidney damage in a matter of weeks.

And see this:

Raw Story reports:

Dr. William Sawyer" said" "We found not only petroleum in the digestive tracts [of shrimp], but also in the edible portions of fish.

"We've collected shrimp, oysters and finned fish on their way to marketplace -- we tested a good number of seafood samples and in 100 percent we found petroleum."

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The FDA says up to 100-PPM of oil and dispersant residue is safe to consume in finned fish, and 500-PPM is allowed for shellfish.

Dr. Sawyer, who has long been a vocal critic of these rules, called the government's tests "little more than a farce."

Maine Public Radio points out:

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