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Dispersants break up oil to make it more soluble in water, allowing oil droplets to sink away from the surface. But the oil doesn't disappear-- it just goes somewhere we can't see it. Underwater, it is more likely to affect fish, coral, plankton, and shellfish. Dispersed oil has been shown to kill fish eggs, while the use of dispersants after the Exxon Valdez spill impeded the growth of certain fish species. Experts characterize dispersants as the lesser of two evils. They help mitigate coastal damage -- the Wall Street Journal cites officials who believe dispersants have kept the current spill off the shore -- at the expense of marine life.
This does not mean that the dispersant is harmless, however. Protect the Ocean points out that "oil is toxic at 11 ppm while Corexit 9500 is toxic at only 2.61 ppm; Corexit 9500 is four times as toxic as the oil itself." Dispersants generally go a long way, with one gallon treating about 20 gallons of oil. But with the amount of oil seeping into the ocean potentially ten times more than originally estimated and a permanent solution possibly months away, dispersant use could drastically increase.
Originally posted by whoshotJR
so if oil is coming out of the floor at 60k barrels per day we would only need like what 1,260,000 lbs of this stuff per day and that doesn't even count all the oil that's already been spilled? Sounds pretty doable to me, I'm sure that adding that much of something would never have a negative impact either.