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The great 2-butoxyethanol hunt and the BP Oil Spill

By       Message Bryan Hamaker     Permalink
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Many articles have been written concerning BP's potential use of a version of Corexit (formulation EC9527A) that contains 2-butoxyethanol.

The conclusions in the articles run the gamut from realistic to the utterly ridiculous.

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Attempting to finger BP for using a banned form of Corexit based on water analysis that contains 2-butoxyethanol is a legally problematic if not hopeless case because:

1) Samples of water from the same area would have to be tested for 2-butoxyethanol before the oil spill occurred to establish a baseline contamination level.

2) A baseline contamination level must be established because 2 butoxyethanol is used in paints and surface coatings, as well as cleaning products and inks. Other products that contain 2-butoxyethanol include acrylic resin formulations, asphalt release agents, firefighting foam, leather protectors, oil spill dispersants, bowling pin and lane degreaser, and photographic strip solutions. Other products containing 2-butoxyethanol as a primary ingredient include some whiteboard cleaners, liquid soaps, cosmetics, dry cleaning solutions, lacquers, varnishes, herbicides, latex paints, cleaning product, and glass cleaners.

3) Contamination of water by 2-butoxyethanol can come from a all too common human practice of dumping any and everything in lakes, creeks, ocean, and any other water, b) allowed levels of industrial and city waste water runoff, c) industrial pollution from any and all points north that has washed into the Gulf of Mexico from plants that dump waste legally and illegally into rivers that eventually feed into the Gulf.

The short and sweet of it is if BP used a banned version of Corexit you cannot prove it to a court or a jury.

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Even the most fame seeking prosecutor could not get this case into any court let alone win it.

I have been a chemist for thirty-five years and have been on my share of hunts for chemicals that have escaped into the environment one way or another.

Proof is just not as simple as some journalists and politicians would have one believe as the BP Oil Spill saga grinds on to some far distant conclusion.

The proof is as follows.

One of the best resources for environmental chemical dangers is the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), based in Atlanta, Georgia, is a federal public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ATSDR serves the public by using the best science, taking responsive public health actions, and providing trusted health information to prevent harmful exposures and diseases related to toxic substances.

The ASTDR reports these facts about 2-butoxyethanol:

2-Butoxyethanol does not build up in plants and animals.

2-Butoxyethanol may break down in air into other compounds within a few days.

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In air, 2-butoxyethanol may be removed by rain, ice, or snow.

Breakdown products of 2-butoxyethanol can be measured in your blood and urine to see if you have been recently exposed to the chemical. These tests need to be done within a day after exposure because 2-butoxyethanol and its breakdown products leave your body within 24-48 hours. These tests cannot tell how much you have been exposed to or whether health effects will occur. Certain blood tests can tell if your red blood cells are damaged, but this effect is not specific to 2-butoxyethanol.

2-Butoxy Ethanol forms Peroxides on exposure to AIR and LIGHT and 2-Butoxy Ethanol is not compatible with OXIDIZING AGENTS (such as PERCHLORATES, PEROXIDES, PERMANGANATES, CHLORATES, NITRATES, CHLORINE, BROMINE and FLUORINE) and STRONG BASES (such as SODIUM HYDROXIDE and POTASSIUM HYDROXIDE) according to the New Jersey Department of Health & Senior Services Right to Know Program.

The United Nations Environment Programme, the International Labour Organisation, or the World Health Organization have determined the sources of human and environmental exposure to 2-butoxyethanol to be:

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Chenist Mathematician Writer - experience with coatings, lubricants, coal chmicals, and aluminum processing. If you drank a soft drink or a beer you used something I helped create - the coating on the inside of the can, 2 billion people use it a (more...)

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The great 2-butoxyethanol hunt and the BP Oil Spill