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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
          www.toxipedia.org
          sgilbert@innd.org
                     INND
   Institute of Neurotoxicology
     & Neurological Disorders

Toxipedia - www.toxipedia.org
Putting scientific information in
the context of history, society,
          and culture.
http://www.toxipedia.org/display/toxipedia/Oil+Dispersant
What do these have in
      common?

  Oil Dispersants
     Pesticides
 Flame Retardants
 Oil Spills are US
   Gulf - BP
Kalamazoo River
China - Nigeria
 Exxon Valdez
    and .....
         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
Oil Dispersants
     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
Soap / detergents
        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
                       Oil landfall in Gulf
                                       1,100,000 US gallons chemical
                                       dispersants were sprayed at the
                                       wellhead five thousand feet
                                       under the sea




Released
4.9 million barrels (780×103 m3), or
205.8 million gallons of crude oil.
    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
 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
  How do oil dispersants work?
 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?
         Nalco - how they work
 What’s in oil dispersants?
 COREXIT 9500                            COREXIT 9527
    Distillates, petroleum,                • 2-Butoxyethanol
     hyrdrotreated light                    • Propylene Glycol
    Propylene Glycol                       • Organic sulfonic acid
    Organic sulfonic acid                    salt
     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)
         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
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
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
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
       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
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
     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
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.”
    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.
     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)
                       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.
    <http://emergency.cdc.gov/gulfoilspill2010/dispersants_hcp_info.asp>.

 US EPA EPA Response to BP Spill in the Gulf of Mexico http://www.epa.gov/bpspill/
 Toxipedia - Oil Dispersants - http://www.toxipedia.org/display/toxipedia/Oil+Dispersant
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                                                                                             For more information contact Steven G. Gilbert at sgilbert@innd.org
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