Tag: University of South Florida

Common pesticide deadly to freshwater organisms

Runoff from golf courses that use fungicides can crash ecosystems from the bottom up, according to a new study.

New study details lethal impacts of a fungicide commonly used on golf courses around the world

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Despite the lessons learned from the effects of DDT, people continue to use chemicals in the same organochlorine family, to the detriment of natural ecosystems.

Now, University of South Florida researchers have shown that one of the world’s most common fungicides is lethal to a wide variety of freshwater organisms and essentially crashes ecosystems from the bottom up.

Biologists Taegan McMahon and Jason Rohr tested the effects of Chlorothalonil, a common fungicides used pervasively on food crops and golf courses. Even at levels below those deemed safe by the EPA, the chemical killed amphibians, snails, zooplankton, algae, and aquatic plants The loss of these herbivores and plants freed the algae from predation and competition, which eventually resulted in algal blooms that were similar to the effects of eutrophication. Continue reading “Common pesticide deadly to freshwater organisms”

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

Oil turning up on sea floor in Gulf of Mexico

University of Georgia research vessel finds thick layers of oil spreading dozens of miles from busted BP well

Oil samples from the Gulf of Mexico collected by the University of Georgia.

SUMMIT COUNTY — In yet another sign that the federal government and BP were overly optimistic in their assessment of oil spill clean-up operations, a University of Georgia researcher announced last week that she has discovered significant deposits of oil that have fallen to the seabed.

Samantha Joye, who has been monitoring the underwater oil since the early days of the spill, has taken hundreds of core samples from the Gulf of Mexico, finding that oil settled on the seafloor in significant quantities for dozens of miles in all directions from the failed BP well that spewed millions of gallons of oil into the sea over the course of several months.

On her blog, Joye wrote that it will take a full chemical analysis to trace the oil to the well, but from the locations and the path of the research voyage it seems fairly clear that the oil is from the blow-out. Joye also contrasted the recent samples with other results from core samples taken near natural seeps, showing how in areas of natural seeps, the oil saturates the seabed. In the recent samples taken by Joye, the oil is sitting on top. Continue reading “Oil turning up on sea floor in Gulf of Mexico”

Scientists challenge federal oil spill assessment

Independent research suggests 80 percent of oil may still be lingering in the deep sea

Dispersant being applied to the Gulf of Mexico.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Two weeks after the federal government announced that most of BP’s oil in the Gulf of Mexico had been burned, skimmed or had otherwise miraculously “disappeared,” a different story is emerging from research conducted by scientists with the University of Georgia and the University of South Florida.

The preliminary results of the studies suggest that some of the heaviest and most toxic components of the oil are settling on to the sea floor, and that in some cases, it’s affecting plankton, which forms the crucial basis of the ocean food chain. Continue reading “Scientists challenge federal oil spill assessment”