UWF Study: Corexit and oil probably worse than oil alone…

Corexit? Well, I washed Tony Hayward's mouth out with a nice handful of the stuff.

The preliminary findings for a study done by the University of West Florida indicates Corexit may not have been effective and could be more damaging to the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem than the oil alone.

From the article in the Pensacola News Journal:

“When mixed with oil, Corexit, the chemical dispersant used by BP, is toxic to phytoplankton and bacteria — crucial elements in the Gulf of Mexico’s fragile food chain, said Wade Jeffrey, a UWF biologist with the Center for Environmental Diagnostics and Bioremediation.”That (effect) may cascade itself up through other larger organisms as you go up the food web,” he said Tuesday. “It’s one of those small pieces of a big puzzle of effects. We can’t say if we’ve seen big shifts yet. I don’t know that answer yet.””

Though British Petroleum claimed Corexit was no more harmful than dish soap and that the chemical would break up the oil and make it easier for the natural bacteria in seawater to swallow up harmful hydrocarbons, the study indicates the opposite occurred.

While the dispersant did break up the oil into smaller droplets, the hydrocarbons were not eradicated, the smaller droplets were still as toxic and made much easier for animals to absorb or consume.

This could be responsible for the die off of the young dolphins this past year:

“… the oil and dispersants appear to have disrupted the food chain and prevented dolphin mothers from building up insulating blubber to weather the cold…”

Also presenting her findings was Susan Laramore, an assistant research professor at Florida Atlantic University, who is studying the effects of oil and Corexit on shrimp, oysters and conch from larval stages through adulthood. And she found:

“…test subjects in younger life stages are more sensitive than older ones, and that they were more sensitive to dispersed oil.

“The dispersants make the oil very much smaller droplets and they’re very much more available to the animals,” Laramore said. “The dispersed oil was supposed to be less toxic…”

Less toxic.

But, it wasn’t.

Shall we just count this as one more thing British Petroleum was wrong about? Or perhaps they weren’t wrong at all, maybe they even suspected or knew. In any case, as many of us were writing last summer, dispersed oil worked in favor of British Petroleum regardless of ecosystem effect because dispersed oil doesn’t come rolling into the beaches to make all the papers.

Dispersed oil only kills below the surface.

So it’s probably a good thing that the Louisiana Senate panel OKs ban on Gulf oil spill dispersants.

Read the articles:

Spill study sees cloudy results

Scientists find Corexit made BP Gulf catastrophe worse is not news

Have a nice day.

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