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A Small Dose of Oil Dispersants or The Dark Side of Dispersants or Oil Dispersants: Our Right to Know Steven G. Gilbert, PhD, DABT INND/Toxipedia

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Presentation on theme: "A Small Dose of Oil Dispersants or The Dark Side of Dispersants or Oil Dispersants: Our Right to Know Steven G. Gilbert, PhD, DABT INND/Toxipedia"— Presentation transcript:

1 A Small Dose of Oil Dispersants or The Dark Side of Dispersants or Oil Dispersants: Our Right to Know Steven G. Gilbert, PhD, DABT INND/Toxipedia

2 INND Institute of Neurotoxicology & Neurological Disorders Toxipedia - Putting scientific information in the context of history, society, and culture.

3 What do these have in common? Oil Dispersants Pesticides Flame Retardants

4 Oil Spills are US Gulf - BP Kalamazoo River China - Nigeria Exxon Valdez and.....

5 What is Crude Oil? mixture of hydrocarbons lighter hydrocarbons methane, ethane, propane and butane occur as gases heavier ones from pentane and up are in the form of liquids or solids various aromatic hydrocarbons while the other organic compounds contain nitrogen, oxygen and sulfur, and trace amounts of metals such as iron, nickel, copper, mercury, and vanadium

6 Oil Dispersants

7 Soap the Basics Sodium or potassium salts of fatty acids Made from common oils or fats with a strong alkaline solution lye Soap molecules hydrophilic end, which dissolves in water hydrophobic end, dissolves nonpolar grease molecules

8 Soap / detergents

9 Soap a bit of History First production of soap-like materials 2800 BC in Ancient Babylon Babylonian clay tablet from 2200 BC - formula for soap consisting of water, alkali and cassia oil Sapo, Latin for soap, first appears in Pliny the Elder's Historia Naturalis, 80 AD discusses the manufacture of soap from tallow and ashes 15th century - professional manufacture of soap Provence, France 16th century, more refined soap - using vegetable oils (such as olive oil) instead of animal fats. 1800s start of high-quality, transparent soap in London

10 Oil landfall in Gulf Released 4.9 million barrels (780×10 3 m 3 ), or 205.8 million gallons of crude oil. 1,100,000 US gallons chemical dispersants were sprayed at the wellhead five thousand feet under the sea

11 Methods of Oil CleanUp Skim it off Soak it up Burn it off Break it down Turbulence and Oil dispersants (nature) (synthetic) ….. then oil degrading bacteria

12 What are oil dispersants? Common tool to remove oil slicks from the water surface and increase the oil's rate of biodegradation. By removing large slicks, oil dispersants are intended to reduce harmful oil exposures to birds, fish, and other wildlife. Prevent oil from contaminating coast lines, estuaries, and beaches

13 Separates an oil slick into small droplets of oil Water turbulence breaks up droplets more and disperses them in water column Oil droplets consumed by naturally occurring bacteria or carried out into the open ocean How do oil dispersants work?

14 Nalco - how they work

15 What’s in oil dispersants? COREXIT 9500 Distillates, petroleum, hyrdrotreated light Propylene Glycol Organic sulfonic acid salt COREXIT 9527 2-Butoxyethanol Propylene Glycol Organic sulfonic acid salt Other Ingredients: Butanedioic acid, 2-sulfo-, 1,4-bis(2-ethylhexyl) ester, sodium salt (1:1) Sorbitan, mono-(9Z)-9-octadecenoate Sorbitan, mono-(9Z)-9-octadecenoate, poly(oxy-1,2-ethanediyl) derivs. Sorbitan, tri-(9Z)-9-octadecenoate, poly(oxy-1,2-ethanediyl) derivs 2 Propanol, 1-(2-butoxy-1-methylethoxy)

16 2-Butoxyethanol Gulf workers reported irritation of the nose and eyes, headache, a metallic taste in the mouth, and vomiting "should be handled as a CARCINOGEN--WITH EXTREME CAUTION“~NJ Dept Health Prolonged or repeated exposures can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, lymph system, blood and blood- forming organs

17 Propylene Glycol Clear, syrupy liquid that lacks almost any odor or taste. "generally recognized as safe" for use in food but studies on the effects of different types of exposures to humans and the environment do not exist or need to be further examined skin irritant, repeated exposure to may cause sensitization, or allergy

18 Sulfonic acid salt sulfonate is a salt or ester of a sulfonic acid. It contains the functional group R-SO2O- sulfonic acids tend to be strong acids

19 Protecting or Threatening the Environment? Oil dispersants increase exposure and uptake of hydrocarbons by fish Cardiac problems, fluid balance issues, and spine and skull deformation of fish embryos Early life stage of aquatic organisms highly sensitive fish, crustaceans, and mollusks Exposure Damage to Species

20 Relationship between Temperature and Toxicity Water temperature Toxicity to aquatic life 85-90 degrees surface temperature of Gulf Negative effects on shrimp and scallops reversible at low concentrations, but the higher the concentration, the more likely that the effects will be irreversible

21 An Ecological Experiment “More than 1m barrels of chemicals have been deployed so far. This is common practice for oil spills on the surface; using them in bulk at depth, as in the Gulf, is an ecological experiment.” -The Economist- July 15, 2010

22 Safer/more effective oil dispersant products available? 12 of 18 EPA approved oil dispersants are more effective at dispersing Southern Louisiana Crude Oil than the Corexit products used in Deep Water Horizon 14 of the 18 products are less toxic to a common species of fish (which one?) than the Corexit products currently in use -Source: EPA

23 Problems with this experiment Dr. Paul Anastas EPA “Toxicity tests not conducted at the same pressures and temperatures where much of the dispersant was applied – 5,000 feet beneath the surface at the wellhead. That leaves uncertainties about how the dispersant might affect the ecosystem at that depth.”

24 Precautionary Principle “When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be take even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.” Wingspread Conference, 1998.

25 Precautionary Principle Setting goals (Health indicators) Taking preventive action in the face of uncertainty Shifting the burden of responsibility to the proponents of an activity (Who benefits?) Exploring a wide range of alternatives to possibly harmful actions (Is it necessary?) Increasing public participation in decision making (transparency of information & environmental justice)

26 References ✦ COMPARATIVE TOXICITY OF TWO OIL DISPERSANTS, SUPERDISPERSANT-25 AND COREXIT 9527, TO A RANGE OF COASTAL SPECIES Alan Scarlett, Tamara S. Galloway et al.... Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Vol. 24, No. 5, pp. 1219–1227, 2005 ✦ "CDC - Oil Spill Response - Dispersant Information for Health Professionals." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 19 May 2010. Web. 03 June 2010.. ✦ US EPA EPA Response to BP Spill in the Gulf of Mexico ✦ Toxipedia - Oil Dispersants -



29 Toxipedia Connecting Science and People Washington Nuclear Museum and Education Center - Integrate Pest Management World Library of Toxicology Healthy World Theater A product of the Institute of Neurotoxicology and Neurological Disorders (INND) For more information contact Steven G. Gilbert at Connecting Gardeners and Experts for Green Gardening Solutions Learning from the past for a safer tomorrow Uniting art and science for a healthy, peaceful world Connecting Scientists and Experts to Improve Global Health Toxicology History Room Particles On The Wall (POTW)

30 Healthy World Press ( publishes interdisciplinary books connecting science, history, and art. Particles on the Wall Particles on the Wall: An interdisciplinary exhibit connecting science and art in exploring the history of Hanford and major themes of today's nuclear age

31 For more information il+Dispersant il+Dispersant


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