The Boston Globe reported: “A new federal study of chemical dispersants used to break up oil in the Gulf of Mexico shows that when mixed with oil, the dispersant is no more toxic to aquatic life than oil alone.” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson stated: “Officials know that use of dispersants presents environmental trade-offs.” Forbes reported: “New testing Shows Corexit No More Toxic Than Alternatives. That [it] was similar to the toxicity of seven other dispersants pre-approved for combating oil spills. Previously, the EPA had said Corexit 9500A was among the most toxic chemicals and had ordered BP to find a less toxic…” Fox Business: “The U.S. EPA said Monday the dispersant used to break up oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico is no more toxic to two types of sea life than other dispersants, the latest testing to reverse previous findings that the chemical was among the most toxic.”
So now we’ve heard the doomsday reports about dispersants particularly Corexit that I posted yesterday and the more reassuring reports today from the EPA that centered around Corexit 9500A that it is no more harmful than oil. But there is Corexit 9500A and 9527. This early report by the EPA appears to be a sidestep that omits Corexit 9527 and is relative only to a very short-term study of Corexit 9500A.
All of these articles say that Corexit 9500A was used in the gulf spill. Whereas the CDC article from yesterday’s blog stated: “COREXIT ® 9500 and 9527 are the two types of dispersants currently being used on the Mississippi Canyon Oil Spill.” A Washington Post article confirms that both were indeed used. According to a NYT article Corexit 9527 has 2 butoxyethanol but Corexit 9500A does not. However, the same article said, “Nalco [the manufacturer] had previously declined to identify the third hazardous substance in the 9500 formula, but EPA’s website reveals it to be dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate, a detergent and common ingredient in laxatives.” That didn’t sound good so I looked it up on pesticideinfo.org, “Dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate causes severe eye irritation, skin irritation, and ingestion causes diarrhea, intestinal bloating, cramps, and nausea in humans. Cytotoxic effects on liver cells in tissue culture have been observed.” Further toxicity reports were either not listed or contained a question mark.
After reading all of this, I don’t think anyone has a good grasp on anything especially long term. The claim is that Corexit had been available (stockpiled) for quite some time. What I don’t understand is why there haven’t been long-term studies done by now?
Dr. Chris Pincetich stated on open.salon.com: “EPA toxicity testing only uses a 96-hour timeframe. What this means, he explains, is that if something takes two weeks to die, the chemical that caused the death is still classified as “non-lethal” for the purposes of EPA testing.” This latest EPA report is admittedly short-term even if the EPA began an intensive study of Corexit when it was first dispersed.
This is another video on open.salon.com from a gulf toxicologist Dr. Susan Shaw, a first hand witness to the affects of the dispersant:
Both Dr. Pincetich and Dr. Shaw explained:
[Corexit] basically disrupts the natural ability of oil to bond with itself. Oil bilipid layers, next to each other, are the very basis of life. Each of us is made out of cells. Those cells are nothing more than an oil layer, surrounding our DNA, surrounding our protiens and RNA and all the other molecules talking to each other. You put in a chemical that directly disrupts that basic biological structure and you are putting yourself at risk from umpteen effects.
I dug around enough to know that “we don’t know” what the long-term affects will be of the dispersants used especially for all species existing in the gulf necessary for a healthy bioecological system. It’s down to a wish and a prayer. What is evident is that there is a much greater need for regulatory oversight of industry in the U.S. The foxes watching the henhouses has always been a classic adage for good reason—the fox looks out for the fox and always will.