In new research, scientists have found that the risks associated with using dispersant compound (DOSS) were minimal. Also, the areas where oil concentrations in water were more than 100 milligrams per litre increased the toxicity.
The multi-disciplinary team of scientists has issued a series of findings and recommendation on the safety of using dispersal agents in oil spill clean-up efforts in a report published in the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.
By measuring the level of a leading dispersal agent, dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate, in sea life following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the team was able to establish how long the chemical lingers and what health effects it has on various organisms.
Terry Hazen, the University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge National Laboratory Governor's Chair for Environmental Biotechnology, who is known for his work on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill recovery efforts, co-authored the report.
"One of the biggest concerns in cleanup efforts is the effect the spill has on people's health and livelihood. It's not just that oil itself is harmful and potentially even flammable, but you have to be careful what kind of chemicals you expose crews to while trying to clean or contain the oil," said Terry Hazen.
The researchers also discovered that the testing methodology used after spills is typically so varied that it is hard to draw broad conclusions when comparing different spills.
To combat this, the team recommends the creation of some form of standardised testing that would enable data to be correlated from one spill to the next.
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