Dispersants Can Increase Risk of Contamination to Fish – Particularly Bluefin Tuna – By 1,000-Fold


We’ve noted before that the news divisions of some Internet outfits – Yahoo, AOL and MSNBC in particular – have done some solid original reporting on the BP oil spill. That continues now with a piece by Bruce Watson on AOL’s Daily Finance site.

He does a good job explaining why dispersant may have simply hidden the oil, and may actually make things worse by increasing chances that marine life actually encounters the toxic oil-and-dispersant mix.

Watson quotes Peter Hodson, an aquatic toxicologist at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada, who says that a key United States EPA study ignored a key issue: While dispersants don’t increase the toxicity of petroleum, they can vastly increase the chances that a fish will interact with oil, and that the oil’s toxicity will affect sea life.

“After all,” Mr. Hodson tells AOL, “Oil toxicity isn’t an issue until fish are exposed to it. Unfortunately, as minuscule dispersed oil droplets combine with water, the volume of the oil spill vastly expands. This can increase the risk to fish by 100- to 1,000-fold.”

The report notes that “… this is particularly problematic for the Gulf’s sea life, especially eggs and embryos, which can’t move out of the way of oil.”

To make things worse, Mr. Hodson continues, “embryos and baby fish have thin skins, which makes them more susceptible to chemical contamination. This can lead to ‘teratogenic effects,’ or deformities.”

For those of us who have been making this point for weeks, all the out-of-town backup we can get is welcomed these days. The context of all this, of course, is that residents are trying to make long-term decisions about accepting final claims while these questions linger…the report by Mr. Watson actually focuses on Bluefin tuna, but could apply to many other fishing issues as well.

See full article from AOL’s Daily Finance: http://www.dailyfinance.com/story/BP-oil-spill-threat-bluefin-tuna/19740675/?icid=sphere_copyright&icid=sphere_copyright

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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