Dispersants Can Make Chemicals from Oil Airborne ... Exposing Coastal Residents to Toxins

George Washington's picture

Washington’s Blog

PhD toxicologist Chris Pincetich says that - even with a very good pilot spraying Corexit - the dispersant drifts onto land:

(Dr. Pincetich also says that the dispersant evaporates and then moves around).

The air force sprayed Corexit from C-130 military cargo planes.

And Corexit is apparently still - to this day - being sprayed in the Gulf. See this, this, this, this and this.

But drift is not the only manner in which dispersants sprayed in the Gulf can expose coastal residents to toxins.

It is well-known that microscopic droplets can easily become airborne.

The Wall Street Journal reported last month:

Oil from the ruptured well, broken down by sprays of chemical dispersants and held at depth by water pressure, has formed microscopic droplets ....

Two mechanical engineers from the University of Miami demonstrated in 2001:

When oil is spilled at sea, aerosols containing oil or chemical
dispersants (when they are used to combat the oil spill) can be formed
... This may result in oil aerosol exposure to response workers or the nearby public.


the case of oil spills in the sea, oil aerosols can be generated from
wind-wave interactions, wave/ship interactions, and some other attendant
natural or mechanical cleanup operations, just like usual marine
aerosols. Those aerosols can contain volatile and toxic components.
Another important factor is the use of chemical dispersants. The
dispersing agents are used to break up the oil slicks into tiny droplets
to provide bite-sized bits for oil-eating bacteria. The dispersants
break down the interfacial tension between the water and the oil,
causing the dispersant to enter the water column.
During the initial stage of the dispersant application (maybe as short
as minutes), it is possible for the dispersant and/or the oil dispersant
droplet to become aerosolized.

They assume that the amount of material aerosolized might be doubled under 15 mile per hour winds.

other words, the use of dispersants in the Gulf may have caused toxic
chemicals within the crude oil (and the dispersant itself) to become
airborne. With even a slight onshore breeze, this could be enough to
expose coastal residents to toxic chemicals.

In addition to causing toxic chemicals to become airborne, the use
of dispersants in the Gulf has also been counter-productive because:

  • The use of dispersants prevented clean up of the oil by skimming, by far the easiest method of removing oil from the water
  • The crude oil which does not become aerosolized sinks under the surface of the ocean, and can delay the recovery of the ecosystem by years or even decades
  • PhD
    toxicologist Ricki Ott says that dispersants make the toxins in crude
    oil more bioavailable to sealife, and scientists have found that
    applying Corexit to Gulf crude oil releases 35 times more toxic chemicals into the water column than would be released with crude alone

Given that the use of dispersant in the Gulf has so many negative affects, why was it used in such massive quantities?

In the video above, Dr. Pincetich explains that it was used because applying Corexit in the Gulf was simply cheaper for
BP than actually cleaning up the oil.  In other words, it cost less in
the short-run for BP  to buy a bunch of Corexit and dump it into the
Gulf to break up and hide the oil than to pay people to clean up the

And a senior EPA analyst says that government agencies have acted as "sock puppets" for BP.

And by using dispersants to break up and hide the giant oil slicks, BP and the government can pretend that it is "mission accomplished"
... even though the use of Corexit may in reality ensure that the
recovery of the Gulf, its seafood industry and its residents is delayed
by many years.

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blindman's picture

political discussion.  (?) .



The Gary Null Show - 09/08/10


minute 11.  interview robert sheer. "the american stick up"

gasmiinder's picture

All vetted, approved and covered up by your fine progressive government.  Give them control over all aspects of your life.  Not to worry, you can depend on them to do the right thing.  They'll TAKE CARE of you.  They're sticking it to those powerful corporations right?  It's a wonderful thing to live in a country where the media shills for the gov't because "their" party is in power.  Fascism (National Socialist Workers Party) is alive and well and half the populations thinks it's a fantastic development - "give us more" they say...........................

palmereldritch's picture

One can only imagine the same malignant Malthusian maggots at BP who can launder toxic behaviour with toxic chemicals and the whole while wrap themselves in the responsible cloak of green stewardship as they engineer an atavistic carbon tax to limit population growth and monopolize the remainder of the globe's resources joyfully embracing such destruction in their heart with a classic soundtrack re-make for the atrocity.

No Wagner this time, just a little Singeing In the Rain...

but the question remains, whom to deploy as Gene Kelly in the production...

Augie or snakehead?....

Ah...Hell, we'll cast them both for the first scene


web bot's picture

There is a reason we are told not to drink urine.

I wonder if the same reason applies to Corexit?

Hang The Fed's picture

Truth be told, you're probably better off with a tall glass of piss than a shot of Corexit.

web bot's picture

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea.. Sponge Bob Square Pants

Who washed up on the shore because of BP... Sponge Bob Square Pants




blindman's picture

fundamentalists be damned, the truth remains. 

or ...  just because crazy people speak the truth does

not make the truth less relevant.  ouch.

mouths of babes and all that / . :; - ( what not ----_) ..>>


"Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever.

Why did the old Persians hold the sea holy? Why did the Greeks give it a separate deity, and own brother of Jove? Surely all this is not without meaning. And still deeper the meaning of that story of Narcissus, who because he could not grasp the tormenting, mild image he saw in the fountain, plunged into it and was drowned. But that same image, we ourselves see in all rivers and oceans. It is the image of the ungraspable phantom of life; and this is the key to it all.

Methinks that what they call my shadow here on earth is my true substance. Methinks that in looking at things spiritual, we are too much like oysters observing the sun through the water, and thinking that thick water the thinnest of air.


O Nature, and O soul of man! how far beyond all utterance are your linked analogies; not the smallest atom stirs or lives on matter, but has its cunning duplicate in mind."


herman melville.  " moby dick ".




tamboo's picture


just another well poisoned with black plague by the usual suspects, move along please.

Walking dead: Ongoing BP Gulf disaster may be killing millions


after the famine they'll move in for the kill as always.






snakehead's picture

F'ing Taliban junkers. Heretic! Kill!  Then jo in your mouth and post the results.

Payne's picture

I have a degree in Molecular Biology from the University of California and short hair.  The guy says all the right things in the video.  Would might put forward his theory and look for proof.  Except BP says its all okay no need to look.  RIGHT.

Cistercian's picture

I think you are on to something there...obviously, if BP says it, it is true!And BP should be trusted to watch out for the interests of the poor and afflicted in the Gulf.Why the charter of the company states that the poor and powerless come first, and unholy extortionate profits be damned!


 Here is a simple rule: Invert BP's statements to arrive at a semblance of the truth.

 BP is Evil...strictly and formally speaking.And every other way for that matter.

   And the only thing worse than BP are the degenerate scumbags who shill for them online, they are truly reprehensible bags of excrement who dwell in the lowest circles of Hell.



snakehead's picture

Here is a simple rule: Invert BP's statements to arrive at a semblance of the truth.


Brilliant analysis, really. Oh yeah.  That's brilliant.  Why analyze anything when there's a simple rule.  See you around next Ramadan, and DEATH TO THE INFIDELS!

snakehead's picture

GW, re: the "black gooey stuff coming ashore", 

LSU's WAVCIS director says oil remains below surface, will come ashore in pulses. He ain't believin' the 75% gone crap.

taraxias's picture

Thanks GW

Just seeing the BP payroll guys back posting again (Augustus, snakehead) leads me to believe that not all's well in paradise

Stay on top of this GW

snakehead's picture

If I worked for BP I wouldn't be killing time here. Bastards haven't even sent me a gas card.

I'm not as ugly as you. Why don't you Photochop that thing.

ArgentDawn's picture

I am Jack's failing liver...

snakehead's picture

The only clear sample of Corexit that's been found within the last few weeks came from Horn Island, which is obviously offshore and is where they sprayed it.  The rest of the reports have identified compounds that are in Corexit and hundreds of other commonly used products and have focused on 2-B which is in stuff that's under your sink.  Unfortunately that's not proof of Corexit.

George Washington's picture

And Corexit is apparently still - to this day - being sprayed in the Gulf. See this, this, this, this and this.

Hook Line and Sphincter's picture

I did a bit of work at the source, and didn't ever see a C130 flying at that altitude (not to say that they weren't). I did, however, take record of AF Jets at higher altitudes releasing aerosols at approx 10k+ ft. Considered that it might be silver particulates (I believe Boeing has the patent), but then again, why would you want to reflect shortwave UV away from surface oil... it defeats the purpose of degradation.

snakehead's picture

It's at the level of stories being told, GW. Nobody's come forward with samples, video proof and witnesses that all fit together.  If it is still being used, someone will eventually blow the whistle and have it clearly documented. But I will double-damn guarantee that people are using 2-B in and around the Gulf every single day even if they don't know it: Windex, Simple Green, etc.

DaveyJones's picture

the Windex defense would work if BP was squeaky clean

snakehead's picture

BP execs chase their 100 yr old single malt whiskies with shots of Corexit.

DaveyJones's picture


snakehead, I know it seems bizzare, but sometimes, multinational  corporations who size dwarf most third world countries have a greater motivation and greater ability than one hippy dippy wimpy independent scientist to influence the game. It's not like they start wars or anything. 

Hang The Fed's picture

Seriously, what purpose other than hiding the oil could there be in BP's use of Corexit?  If the oil sinks, then it's certainly not being photodegraded any faster and it's damn sure not being skimmed any more efficiently, so...

In the end, it's about their image and their bottom line.  Out of sight, out of mind.  Small wonder that their debt rating went up three ticks today.  Fucking scumbags, the lot of them.  Additionally, so much for our government obeying their mandate to serve and defend the people.  They, too, are just one big freewheeling crowd of war profiteers and PR puppets.

Keep it up, George.  We can hardly rely on MSM or government press conferences to hear anything remotely true about what's going on down there.

Augustus's picture

The purpose had nothing to do with hiding the oil.  It was to disperse it so that the bugs could eat it faster before it comes ashore.  Some of the heavy components will be dropped out and on the bottom.  Those will be in the sediment along with whatever else comes into the GoM from all over the midwest.  Six eyed flounder will be very unlikely as a result of the oil addition.

Hang The Fed's picture

1. Dispersing the oil may allow populations of microbes to attack it more readily, but that largely depends on the population density of the microbes in that area.  Essentially, you're selling the ability to skim the stuff AND certainly sending it deeper via dispersion, where the microbes become far less effective.  Further, the dispersants themselves are toxic, so...you're proposing that it's a far better idea to take the cheap way out instead of the cosmetically uglier yet ultimately more effective way.

2. BP has done little since the start of the whole mess to communicate anything in the way of responsibility or transparency, beyond the claims and statements of a rotating cast of PR heads.  Why would there be a consistent need for subpoenas, lawsuits, etc., to force them to release information if they have nothing to hide?

I am not Dr. Manhattan, but I'm also fairly confident in my ability to determine when someone is serving me up a nice steaming pile of shit-on-a-shingle, and BP and the government have consistently chosen to act in a manner that invites suspicion time after time.  Furthermore, the idea of those "heavy components" being relegated to the sediment does nothing to reassure me.  Such a thing is only in-line with the great trend of trying to kick the can down the road until anyone who would bother to complain is either dead or distracted.


DaveyJones's picture

I think their criminal record demonstrates their motivation is purely safety not shareholders


"Corexit 9500 is a solvent originally developed by Exxon and now manufactured by the Nalco of Naperville, Illinois. Corexit is is four times more toxic than oil (oil is toxic at 11 ppm (parts per million), Corexit 9500 at only 2.61ppm).

In a report written by Anita George-Ares and James R. Clark for Exxon Biomedical Sciences, Inc. titled "Acute Aquatic Toxicity of Three Corexit Products: An Overview" Corexit 9500 was found to be one of the most toxic dispersal agents ever developed.

According to the Clark and George-Ares report, Corexit mixed with the higher gulf coast water temperatures becomes even more toxic. The UK's Marine Management Organization has banned Corexit so if there was a spill in the UK's North Sea, BP is banned from using Corexit."



"Now the EPA has approved Corexit 9500 and Corexit(R) EC9527A for use in the spill, according to ProPublica. The big problem: Nobody really knows what's inside Corexit.

Trade secrets keep the exact ingredients from being revealed, and safety sheets show that Corexit contains compounds that can cause vomiting, reproductive problems, and headaches at high doses. No toxicity studies have been performed on the compounds, but an environmental group called Protect the Ocean claims that Corexit is four times as toxic as the oil. And an earlier form of Corexit used in the Exxon Valdez cleanup reportedly caused workers to develop nervous system, blood, and respiratory disorders."


snakehead's picture

NIH just announced a $20M study of health effects on cleanup workers a couple days ago.  Exxon had some data from the Valdez spill but never released it.

Nalco did release the ingredients list - it's in the docs from Congressional hearings, I think. The only mystery had been in one compound used that they originally listed as "proprietary".

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

You should write for Marty Python or The Onion. Seriously, you're that good.

Hang The Fed's picture

Except that he's not very funny.  You have to be cognizent of the fact that you're proffering bullshit to touch the funny bone.  This is just plain sad.

willien1derland's picture

GW - Great post - It is absolutely amazing that the major media outlets are no longer reporting on this issue - keep up the great work - Pulitzer inbound!

snakehead's picture

Re: Naman, the guy was handed a sample (more than once) that he didn't collect, found a commonly used chemical (2-B) - I gave you a link to the Wikipedia article - and has done nothing to straighten out the claims that he found Corexit in this or that. Maybe it's not his fault that hysterics and pitchmen have jumped to unwarranted conclusions but he's been letting it ride.


George Washington's picture

Corexit is to the Gulf as high frequency trading is to the stock market ... or something like that.

DaveyJones's picture

high frequency is an excellent analogy - exponentially increase the risk through a handfull of players literally controlling the game on a dishonest playing board

knukles's picture

As God's work is to Goldman Sachs
As honesty, truth and striaght fact are to the gubamint
As prudent monetary policy is to the Federal Reserve
As... oh what's the use anyhow........

snakehead's picture

The main video is from 6 weeks ago, Naman's been discredited, and the white "powder" in the third link is from bacterial breakdown.  Corexit isn't a powder.

Good luck, GW.



George Washington's picture

Sure, and the black gooey stuff washing ashore is  seaweed

and seafloor muck...


snakehead's picture

That would be weathered oil.  The stuff that didn't get dispersed. There's still quite a bit down there.

George Washington's picture

BTW, who - besides you and BP - say that Naman has been discredited, and based on what facts?

Don Smith's picture

Is it just ridiculously shallow of me NOT to believe anything scientific that comes from a hippie? 

I'm as incensed as the next guy about the BP spill and (what I believe to be a) coverup, but I saw this video a while back and thought, my god, if this is the only guy they can have explain what's going on, all our Gulf are BPs.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

The use of the term "hippie" was the shallow indicator.

taraxias's picture

Well said, there's ALWAYS a tell, isn't there?

VWbug's picture

well now that explains a LOT

little too much acid huh boys?

snakehead's picture

George, I would bet a lot that Bob Naman isn't on BP's radar and never has been.  Dump some Simple Green and water into a jar, say it was in your pool, take it in for analysis, he finds 2-B.  That's enough to pump the Corexit poisoning everybody crap, apparently.  Funny it was "found" in only one pool, huh?

Augustus's picture

That pool was the only one involved in the water spout touchdown and fluid exchange.