(Sept. 30) — Researchers testing the waters off Louisiana in June found hugely elevated levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, some of which are known carcinogens.
The researchers from Oregon State University say that a device taking samples just off the shore of Louisiana’s Grande Isle registered a 40-fold increase in PAHs between May and June.
What’s worse is that the sampling device was specifically designed to measure the fraction of PAHs in the environment that could make their way through a biological membrane.
“This is a measure of what would enter into an organism,” said Kim Anderson, an OSU professor of environmental and molecular toxicology.
“There was a huge increase of PAHs that are bio-available to the organisms — and that means they can essentially be uptaken by organisms throughout the food chain.”
Anderson said that water samples taken off the Mississippi, Alabama and Florida coasts — as well as air samples taken along the coast — also showed elevated levels of PAHs, but not nearly of the same magnitude.
Samples from July were lost; Anderson is now testing samples taken in August. The operative question is how many of the PAHs have biodegraded in the interim. BP’s blowout sent somewhere between 4 and 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf’s waters between April 20 and July 15.
PAHs are a class of more than 100 hydrocarbon pollutants; 17 get particular attention because exposure can have harmful health effects.
Anderson said that almost every one of those 17 particularly toxic compounds experienced the 40-fold increase that the entire class did.
“This would be the largest PAH change I’ve seen in over a decade of doing this,” she told HuffPost.
Anderson said different organisms — be they plankton, fish, shellfish or humans — have different exposure risks to PAHs in the water; and they also have different capacities to metabolize the PAHs.
So just how many of these toxic compounds actually ended up in the food chain was beyond her area of research, she said.
She did not issue any warning to consumers, noting: “The USDA is testing the seafood and I would presume that they’ve ensured that what’s on the market is safe to eat.”
Anderson said that based on the findings of other researchers, she suspects that the abundant use of dispersants by BP increased the bioavailability of the PAHs in this case.
Back in late July, I reported that scientists had tentatively found signs of an oil-and-dispersant mix under the shells of tiny blue crab larvae in the Gulf. At that point it appeared to be an indication that dispersants had broken up the oil into toxic droplets so tiny that they can easily enter the food chain. But two months later, those researchers have yet to finalize their conclusions. So the question remains an open one.
First Posted: 09-30-10 04:55 PM | Updated: 09-30-10 05:14 PM
Source: The Huffington Post
Corexit also contain arsenic, cadmium, chromium, mercury, cyanide, and other heavy metals. Dispersing oil with it increases toxicity 11-fold ….
People who work near it are hemorrhaging internally. And that’s what dispersants are supposed to do.EPA now is taking the position that they really don’t know how dangerous it is, even though if you read the label, it tells you how dangerous it is. And, for example, in the Exxon Valdez case, people who worked with dispersants, most of them are dead now. The average death age is around fifty. It’s very dangerous, and it’s an economic-it’s an economic protector of BP, not an environmental protector of the public.
The federal agency responsible for ensuring that an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico was operating safely before it exploded last month fell well short of its own policy that inspections be done at least once per month, an Associated Press investigation shows.
Since January 2005, the federal Minerals Management Service conducted at least 16 fewer inspections aboard the Deepwater Horizon than it should have under the policy, a dramatic fall from the frequency of prior years, according to the agency’s records.
Scientists studying video of the gushing oil well have tentatively calculated that it could be flowing at a rate of 25,000 to 80,000 barrels of oil a day. The latter figure would be 3.4 million gallons a day.
“The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.”
Approximately 325,000 gallons of dispersant have been deployed so far in BP’s effort to break up the spreading oil slick before it hits the fragile Gulf coast, and over 500,000 gallons more are available.
The company acknowledged Friday that it had completed the final cementing of the oil well and pipe just 20 hours before the blowout last week.