The potential effects of the crude oil itself on the health of the entire biome, man through the tiniest of sea creatures, from the spill is long term. The crude oil is toxic if inhaled, ingested or if one is coated with it. Everyone’s being touched by it could suffer respiratory, skin reactions and cancers of various types are some of the possibilities. Toxicity from hydrocarbon (crude oil/petroleum) exposure depends on which organ system is predominately involved. Organ systems that can be affected by hydrocarbons include the pulmonary, brain and nervous system, cardiac, embryological, gastrointestinal, hepatic, kidney, dermatologic, and hematologic systems. The respiratory system seems to be most effected with pneumonia.
As the crude oil is dispersed by wind, weather and the sea, micro organisms ingest it and as larger animals up the food chain eat the smaller ones thus spreading the residues from the oil into their body tissues. These are the dangers to living systems (without even considering the land, shoreline and soil communities.) is if no one uses dispersant.
The effects of dispersants
In a 2005 National Academy of Sciences report, the dispersants and the oil they leave behind can kill fish eggs. A study of oil dispersal in Coos Bay, Ore. found that it accumulated in mussels. Another study examining fish health after the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska in 1989 found that PAHs (dispersant) affected the developing hearts of Pacific salmon. The acute toxicity of dispersants is generally attributed to the effects on biological membranes; usually the dispersant disrupts the outer membrane of respiratory cells, often causing electrolytic and/or osmotic imbalance within the cell.
There is insufficient understanding of the fate of dispersed oil in aquatic ecosystems.
A version of Corexit a dispersant was widely used after the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill and, according to a literature review performed by the group
Corexit a dispersant was later linked with
health impacts in people including respiratory, nervous system, liver, kidney and blood disorders.
surface-active compounds in the dispersant likely affect the embryonic membrane. This is evidenced by the fact that developed, abnormal larvae were virtually nonexistent at the end of experiments, observers either found fully developed, normal larvae or embryos that had been arrested at the multicell stage, often appearing as only loose aggregations of cells. These observations are consistent with known effects of surfactants on biological membranes. The dispersant increases permeability, loss of barrier function, and osmotic imbalance Some other abnormalities have been seen in developing embryos in marine echinoderms and other gastropods. Some mysid mortality may seem to be asphyxiated through damage to respiratory structures
The dispersants used today are less toxic than those used a decade ago. Toxic still. Maybe they accumulate slowly, or disrupt the hormonal systems of animals and humans less-no one has bothered to research these toxins in long term studies to find out. Possible Russian roulette with the Gulf’s version of Texas Tea.
For a little bit of levity on the oil rupture check out Stephen Colbert.
Excerpts courtesy of http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/821143-overview
Excerpts courtesy of http://www.madsci.org
Excerpts courtesy of www.pwrc.usgs.gov/infobase/topbibs/petroleum.pdf
Image courtesy of http://bit.ly/ad2lhb
Image courtesy of US Air Force