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A Comparative Assessment of the Aquatic Toxicity of Corexit 9500 to Marine Organisms

  • B. S. EcholsEmail author
  • C. J. Langdon
  • W. A. Stubblefield
  • G. M. Rand
  • P. R. Gardinali
Article

Abstract

The use of chemical dispersants during oil spill responses has long been controversial. During the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill, 1.8 million gallons of dispersant, mainly Corexit 9500, were applied in offshore waters to mitigate the human health and coastal environmental impact of surface oil contamination. To evaluate the potential impact of the dispersant on marine life, 18 species, representing important ecological and commercial taxa, were tested using low-energy, dispersant-only water accommodated fractions (WAFs) of Corexit 9500 and standard acute toxicity test methods. All prepared WAFs were analytically characterized. Analyses included the two dispersant markers found in the dispersant and evaluated in samples collected during the DWH Response, dioctylsulfosuccinate sodium salt, and dipropylene glycol n-butyl ether (DPnB). The median lethal and effective concentrations (LC/EC50s) were calculated using a nominal exposure concentration (mg/L, based on the experimental loading rate of 50 mg/L) and measured DPnB (µg/L). Results ranged from 5.50 to > 50 mg/L dispersant and 492 to > 304,000 µg/L DPnB. Species sensitivity distributions of the data demonstrated that taxa were evenly distributed; however, algae and oysters were among the more sensitive organisms. The calculated 5% hazard concentration (HC5) for DPnB (1172 µg/L) was slightly higher than the USEPA chronic criteria of 1000 µg/L and substantially higher than all measured concentrations of DPnB measured in the Gulf of Mexico during the DWH oil spill response.

Notes

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by BP Exploration & Production Inc. and the BP Gulf Coast Restoration Organization (GCRO). The investigators on this research disclose a previous financial interest with BP. The investigators eliminated the potential conflict of interest in accordance with their respective universities policies and procedures.  This is contribution number 889 from the Southeast Environmental Research Center in the Institute of Water & Environment at Florida International University.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Toxicology Associates, LLCGate CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Hatfield Marine Science CenterOregon State UniversityNewportUSA
  3. 3.Department of Environmental and Molecular ToxicologyOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  4. 4.Department of Earth and the Environment, Southeast Environmental Research CenterFlorida International UniversityNorth MiamiUSA
  5. 5.Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Southeast Environmental Research CenterFlorida International UniversityNorth MiamiUSA

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