Corexit Oil Dispersant - The Health Menace That May Keep ‘Giving and Giving’
The immediately obvious physical evidence of the BP oil spill is rapidly disappearing as the massive oil slicks caused by the oil spill are burned, skimmed, dissolve or clump up. As the physical evidence disappears, it becomes easier to begin to put the whole BP oil spill mess in the past.
For some, though, the rapid disappearance of that surface oil is primarily testimony to the efficacy of the toxic chemical BP used as a dispersant. These people believe that the dispersant, Corexit, is a lethal menace that will continue to poison sea, sand, and living organisms for years to come.
BP used approximately 1.84 million gallons of Corexit, with 1.07 million gallons applied to the oil spill on the water’s surface and 771,000 gallons far under the surface. Although the EPA approved BP's use of Corexit, no one knows the long-term effects of the dispersant.
One scientist familiar with the protocols and standards used by the EPA to approve Corexit as the oil spill dispersant believes that the ‘EPA approved’ attribute is misleading. He cites standard EPA tests that only evaluate fairly immediate toxicity rather than long-term effects.
Not nearly enough is known about the chemical compounds that form as Corexit binds with the oil from the oil spill and water, and what happens when these compounds are ingested or inhaled by the countless marine organisms in the Gulf. These are the same organisms that are part of the food chain that include the shellfish and fish that eventually end up on Americans’ dinner plates. With more than 600 miles of Gulf Coast shoreline visibly “oiled” and the unknown quantities of sprayed Corexit that drifted onto land, there is significant potential for a long-term health crisis for Gulf residents.
This potential threat was highlighted recently when Alabama TV station WKRG brought some water and sand samples from Alabama beaches in to a private lab for testing. Oil concentration results ranging from 16 ppm to 221 ppm where only 5 ppm was expected were pretty shocking. However, those results weren’t as shocking as the sample that exploded before the test could be conducted.