The oil dispersant is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, hurting. It has increased the overall toxicity of the Gulf Coast to levels that “pose grave risks for marine life and human health”. There is some speculation that the dispersants, upon evaporation, may influence cloud formation and lead to toxic rainfall on the East Coast next year. This has caused several independent groups of scientists to call for an immediate halt on the use of dispersants.
So yes, in the opinion of the broader scientific community, definitely hurting.
According to a recent study from the EPA on the effects of the dispersant Corexit 9500 on two sensitive Gulf species of shrimp and fish, the dispersant is not as toxic as the oil itself. They also mention that the dispersant/oil mixture is not as toxic pure oil. They close by saying that the use of dispersants in the Gulf was a good decision. However, the study fails to mention any future issues the use of the dispersant may result in and the overlying fact is that dumping more chemicals in the ocean cannot be “good” although it may be necessary for the time being.
I think the EPA is trying to downplay how harmful the disputants are, so the public won’t be more outraged than they already are. Releasing any synthetic chemicals into the environment is going to have consequences, and we may not know what those consequences fully are for years to come. It’s a risky and hastily thought up approach to cleaning up the spill.
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