Just How Toxic Is Corexit?
Image courtesy Wikipedia
It’s the million dollar (or million barrel, for that matter) question. Just how toxic is Corexit, the chemical that’s being used to break apart the oil in the Gulf?
No one seems to be able to give a straightforward answer. And that, to me, is the frightening part.
According to the EPA, as reported by CNN, Corexit is less toxic than other dispersants. They say there’s no evidence that the chemical is staying in the water over time, or that it’s settling at the bottom of the ocean. And, laboratory tests confirm that Corexit is doing the least harm to shrimp and small fish, compared to other chemicals.
As of today, 1.5 million gallons of Corexit have been dumped on the Gulf. No one, ever, has used that much of this substance. And there is a serious lack of scientific data about long-term effects of this product.
For instance, here’s what the New York Times reports about Corexit, which was used in the cleanup efforts for the Valdez Oil Spill:
The chemical 2-butoxyethanol, found in Corexit 9527, was identified as having caused lasting health problems in workers involved in the cleanup of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
The truth is that what we don’t know far outweighs what we do know about Corexit, and the potential harm it could be doing to the environmental, marine life, and us. There is a good reason why this chemical is banned in Europe. And yet, we’re dumping it by the plane-ful into the Gulf. Not good.
So what’s the solution? Well, if I knew that I’d be hero of the year. My feeling is that later on, we’re going to discover some unpleasant side effects of this chemical, that it’s impacting us and the environment in ways we simply can’t imagine right now.