Oil Spill Science Seminar: Dispersants

Understanding the toxicity of oil and dispersant mixtures and the development of alternative dispersants
 May 20, 2015 – University of Louisiana at Lafayette
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Click here to watch a VIDEO of the seminar.

This seminar was designed to give members of non-profits information on a few broad topics concerning the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill – namely the effects of oil-dispersant mixtures on aquatic life and research into bacteria-based dispersants. A brief history of dispersants and the impacts of oil and dispersants in nearshore environments was also given.

Dr. Maung-Douglass (Louisiana Sea Grant) summarizing the effects of shoreline oiling in marshes. Photo credit: K.A. Maung-Douglass

Dr. Emily Maung-Douglass of Louisiana Sea Grant set up a framework for why dispersants are used in oil spill response by providing information on how shoreline oiling leads to environmental degradation and its potentially long-lasting impacts to animals. She also discussed dispersant use in a historical context, and described how dispersants work. View the PDF here.

Dr. Green (LSU AgCenter) describing toxicity testing in Gulf killifish. Photo credit: K.A. Maung-Douglass

Dr. Christopher Green of LSU AgCenter gave an in-depth case study revolving around a species important to both the marsh and recreational fishermen, the Gulf killifish. He explained how the toxicity of oil-dispersant mixtures can be impacted by environmental factors, such as salinity.

Dr. Nyman (LSU AgCenter) detailing the search for bacterial-based surfactants. Photo credit: K.A. Maung-Douglass

Dr. Andrew Nyman of LSU AgCenter discussed topics related to marsh resiliency post-oiling, and the comparative toxicity of various dispersants and surfactants. He also discussed the development of novel, bacterial enzyme-based dispersants.