Dispersants Cause Gulf Fish to Absorb More Toxins and then Make It Harder for the Fish to Get Rid of the Pollutants Once Exposed

George Washington's picture

Washington’s Blog

Louisiana State University fish toxicologist Kevin Kleinow has found that the dispersants used in the Gulf increase the amount of toxins the fish absorb and then, once exposed, makes it harder for the fish to get rid of the toxins through normal biological processes.

As LSU reported last week:

Kleinow, DVM, PhD, is a toxicologist who specializes in environmental
health issues, especially those related to fish. This means he studies
how contaminants in the environment affect fish and how those
interactions may affect other organisms, including humans. With the oil
spill in the Gulf, Dr. Kleinow has redirected ongoing work on domestic
and industrial surfactant input into aquatic environments to dispersant
use with the oil spill. Surfactants, major components of dispersants,
are being examined as to how they may affect the uptake and fate of
petrochemicals in the fish.


Dr. Kleinow postulated
that surfactants discharged in the environment—even at low
—would alter the uptake, excretion, retention, and
potential toxicity of other chemicals in the environmental food chain.

Subsequent work in his laboratory ... showed that indeed this was true.


That’s what happens with the surfactant; it progressively increases the permeability so more and more compound gets into the animal from the higher contaminant concentration
in the diet in the intestine, increasing bioavailability. In a similar
fashion, but with opposite results, surfactants prevent the
transporter-mediated concentration of contaminants into the bile
necessary for excretion. Leakage back from the bile lowers the amount of contaminant available for excretion. For both venues the net result is increased compound equivalents in the fish.
Surfactants themselves, having low relative toxicity as a group and
hence widespread use in shampoos, detergents and the like, could
facilitate the toxicity of other chemicals potentially much more
hazardous to the fish.


adding dispersants to the water to break up the oil, surfactants in the
dispersants not only increase access of the non-remediated oil to the
fish, but also could cause select toxic compounds in the oil to be
absorbed more rapidly and make it harder for the fish to excrete those

So not only do the dispersants used in the Gulf directly pose health risks to people and sealife (see this, this, this, this and this) and cause the oil to sink so that oil-eating bacteria will break it down much more slowly, but they increase harm to the fish from the oil as well.

And dispersants are apparently still being sprayed.

Hat tip Alexander Higgins.

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Gully Foyle's picture

Only one question. With all the massive fish die offs being reported, is anyone testing for GOM related chemicals? Seems pretty easy, pull a dozen dead fish from random parts of each die off then send them to an independent lab.


non-anon's picture

thanks GW, ignore the naysayists.

Shocker's picture

Just stay away from seafood for about 1-2 years. By then nature will take over and clean up the mess.

Xibalba's picture

good luck with that...

lawton's picture

Shouldnt all gulf sea life be gone and oil coating everything on the shore by now based on earlier threads on this ?

ToNYC's picture

Here comes Czar Feinberg with the avuncular advice to take the dive for the quick  short end money...and give up your claim when the smoke and mirrors cloud of Corexit dissipate and lay a fat greasy one on the Gulf aquaculture with few claimants. He got 97% done for the 9-11 payoff; good thing for him no casualties at WTC 7 or he would be having a real fiasco.

newstreet's picture

Thank you G.W. for these posts.

mynhair's picture

Spiny Lobsters are in abundance on the east coast of FL.

Can you post how long until the Blob kills them?

pvmuse's picture

Thank you G.W. I have appreciated and read every one of your gulf posts. I am very glad someone is keeping track of all this information that most want swept under the rug.

schoolsout's picture

All I can say is our recreational shrimp baiting season opens mid-Sept...


Can't wait....

Madcow's picture

Seriously. Can we not at least agree to stop TRYING to make things worse ?

mynhair's picture

Have people come to the Gulf and use eyes?  No way.

Buck Johnson's picture

The fish might be better in 10 years but the life that live in the sand and on the bottom of ocean, it will be a generation at least (minus any mutations from the toxins).  Essentially they have poisoned the gulf and even the fishers and shrimpers don't want to fish it.

Nonconformist's picture

GW, thanks for sticking with this.  The federal government definitely needs to publish the rational, including all supporting documentation, as to why dispersants were allowed and why they were deemed to be superior to skimming.  Normally, a decision of this type would be accompanied by a NEPA document that would thoroughly discuss the issues and alternatives as well as the impacts, avoidable and unavoidable.  There has been plenty of time to put this together and change course if dispersants are not the best approach.

thesapein's picture

Same goes for anyone exposed, not only fish.


Enjoy your posts GW, keep us informed! Try not to pay attetion to those psy-ops guys who are obviously on BP's payroll, or NOAA, or the white house. Hitting the nail on the head has a funny way of touching a nerve with those guys....Paging bubba1231!

covert's picture

any way to know how toxic prolonged exposure is?


Cistercian's picture

Thanks George.You are really pissing them off...it is hilarious how many trolls attack and attempt to derail your posts.If nothing else does this signifies a serious Win for you.

  Thanks again and keep up the good work!

Payne's picture

many fish have an oily layer as a protectant on the outside of their body.  Keeps them from dehydrating.  I wonder if the dispersant breaks that down ? Gee what a great science project BP has given us.

AssFire's picture

Excellent news!

Thanks GW


blindman's picture



Fishing Industry in Gulf Still Worried About Levels of Toxins in the Water and the Impact on Marine Life


"We drove around on his trawler for several hours, and you could watch on the sonar clouds popping up. We were in about twelve, thirteen feet of water. And the middle part of the area would literally fill up with a big cloud, and we would stop the boat, and he would basically drop down, tie some sorbent pad to a grappling hook, drop it down in the water and pull it up, and it would be covered in sort of a slimy, brown oil-dispersant mix. And it was—we did that eight times. Every single time, we caught oil and dispersant mix.

And it was a very disturbing thing to see, in addition to the fact that these guys said, "Look, we refuse to fish here, because this is so toxic, and we can see that there’s less life here." They have friends who have started to try to fish, because the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources on August 6 reopened much of their fishing grounds to commercial fishermen and recreational fishermen. And they know personally, both Miller and Stewart—they know commercial fishermen who are going out and catching either nothing or a maximum 200 pounds of shrimp per go, in a situation where normally they would be catching between 700 pounds and a thousand pounds a night. And according to them, 200 pounds, you can’t even pay your—cover your expenses with that much. They’re also reporting seeing crabs in the middle of the day trying to crawl out of the water, because there is not enough oxygen in the water. They’re seeing far, far less birdlife and overall marine life throughout the entire Mississippi Sound, as well. "


LeBalance's picture

Thanks, GW.  Please keep up the great work.  It IS appreciated!

Oswald Spengler's picture

Well, it does seem that GW is obsessed but I'm happy he's keeping them honest a la Anderson Pooper. 

Kelly's picture

He works for you and me and we don't even pay him. Helluva guy. 

Want to go skinny dippin' in the gulf later ozzy?

George Washington's picture

Thanks, Oswald Spengler, that made me laugh.

If you have a spare 2 minutes, this may make you laugh as well:

Comic Relief

This is real, and not parody.

traderjoe's picture

Hilarious. Well worth the watching. The little pieces falling after people are so excited...hilarious. 

Gordon Freeman's picture

Hey, George--give it a f@#kin' break...

DollarMenu's picture

You clicked on it fool...

Do you not have a personal, internal "IGNORE" button?


LoneStarHog's picture

The best way to give you a f@#kin' break is for you to have some self-discipline and ignore GW's posts.

It is not the job of some arrogant ass to decide what the rest of us should or should not request and read.

Is this too cerebral for you?

jbcorwin's picture

Rather than offer you the illusion of free choice, I will take the liberty of choosing for you... if and when your time comes round again. I do apologize for what must seem to you an arbitrary imposition, Dr. Freeman. I trust it will all make sense to you in the course of... well... I'm really not at liberty to say. In the meantime... this is where I get off.