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Environment: Traces of Deepwater Horizon oil cause deformities, swimming deficiencies in Gulf fish

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An explosion and subsequent fire on BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico led to the biggest oil spill on recornd in U.S. coastal waters. Photo courtesy U.S. Coast Guard.

Study shows that sunlight intensifies the impacts of PAHs

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — In yet another sign that BP’s spilled Deepwater Horizon may have long-lasting impacts on Gulf ecosystems, a team of researchers said last week that even low-level, short-term exposure to traces of oil remnants causes deformities and impairs the swimming ability of fish.

The research was led by scientists with the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. The school is a leader in the field of marine toxicology and used a state of the art hatchery to study the effect of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) on various species of fish, including cobia and mahi mahi.

PAH’s are toxic components of oil that are released from oil into the water column. The team also studied the effects of photo-enhanced toxicity, or the impact of sunlight on the potency of the toxic compounds found in the oil from the DWH spill.

A previous study by Smith University scientists showed similar impacts to fish during  embryonic stages of development.

“We found that in more sensitive species the photo-enhanced toxicity could account for up to a 20-fold higher sensitivity,” said Dr. Martin Grosell, professor and associate dean of graduate studies for the Rosenstiel School. “This is an important part of the equation because it means that traditional toxicity testing performed under laboratory conditions will tend to underestimate the toxicity that might have occurred in the natural environment under the influence of sunlight,” he added. Continue reading

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Environment: Some Gulf of Mexico beaches are still contaminated with a toxic sludge of oil and dispersant

Research show that carcinogenic oil-related PAH compounds are easily absorbed through skin

A beach along Cape San Blas, Florida, where researchers sampled the swash zone for contaminated weathered tar product mixed with dispersant. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

New research in Florida shows contaminated oil product accumulating in the swash zone of Gulf beaches. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Two years after the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, beaches along the northern Gulf of Mexico coastline are far from being clean, says University of South Florida researcher James “Rip” Kirby, who recently documented accumulations of remnant oil with “scary high” concentrations of carcinogenic oil-related compounds. Download the full report or a summary at the Surfrider website.

In fact, the weathered tar product from crude oil dispersed with Corexit were found to have PAH concentrations consistently in excess of limits set to identify danger to life and health — IDHL limits, as defined by NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration.

In all, 32 sites were sampled; only three were free of PAH contamination. Samples at 26 of the sites exceeded the IDHL limits. Testing was done at beaches between Waveland, Miss. and Cape San Blas, Fla. Continue reading

Morning photo: Beaches

Gotta keep ‘em clean!

Cape San Blas, Florida.

SUMMIT COUNTY — I spent much of Sunday reading and re-reading a very discouraging study on toxic oil pollution along Gulf Coast beaches. Despite all the chamber of commerce and government propaganda on how well everything has been cleaned up, it turns out that there are alarmingly high levels of carcinogenic oil-related PAHs still accumulating in the shallows all along the northern Gulf Coast, including beaches where our family waded and swam last spring and summer. You can read the story here. Just another reason to try and end our addiction to oil as soon as possible … Continue reading

Levels of oil-linked carcinogens in Gulf of Mexico jumps

Oregon State University findings could spell trouble for food chain

Oregon State University researchers say they’ve measured a 40-fold increase in concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in parts of the Gulf of Mexico. They suspect the use of dispersants may have intensified the formation of some of the substances.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Oregon State University researchers said they’ve detected a troubling increase in concentrations of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, in some areas of the Gulf of Mexico contaminated by the oil that spewed from BP’s failed Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.

In some samples, the levels increased by up to 40 percent from May to June. Subsequent sampling in August continued to show abnormally high levels of PAHs, similar to the 40-fold increase discovered earlier in the summer, said Kim Anderson, a professor of environmental and molecular toxicology in OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

The researchers suspect that chemical dispersants used during the oil spill, coupled with the ultraviolet exposure in the Gulf may have increased the formation of OPAHs beyond expected levels. Some of the chemicals detected are of great concern because they could easily enter the food chain. Continue reading

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