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A serious look at Corexit 9527A and 9500

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posted on Jun, 16 2010 @ 02:32 PM
I keep hearing about how the Corexit dispersants are going to somehow cause a cloud of toxic gas, so I did a little research into Corexit. Here's what I found:

From the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for Corexit 9527A, the hazardous substances are
  • 2-Butoxyethanol
  • Organic sulfonic acid salt (Proprietary)
  • Propylene Glycol

2-Butoxyethanol has the following uses:

2-Butoxyethanol is a solvent in paints and surface coatings, as well as cleaning products and inks. Other products that contain 2-butoxyethanol include acrylic resin formulations, asphalt release agents, firefighting foam, leather protectors, oil spill dispersants, bowling pin and lane degreaser, and photographic strip solutions. Other products containing 2-butoxyethanol as a primary ingredient include some whiteboard cleaners, liquid soaps, cosmetics, dry cleaning solutions, lacquers, varnishes, herbicides, and latex paints.

2-Butoxyethanol is frequently found in popular cleaning products. It provides cleaning power and the characteristic odor of Windex and other glass cleaners. It is the main ingredient of many home, commercial and industrial cleaning solutions, such as Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner.

Simply put, it is a common solvent.

Wikipedia (of all places
) gives more information on the proprietary salt used:

The identity of the sulfonic acid salt used in both forms of Corexit was disclosed to the EPA in June 2010, as dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate.

and goes on to list the source of this information as a New York Times article dated June 9, 2010:

Nalco had previously declined to identify the third hazardous substance in the 9500 formula, but EPA's website reveals it to be dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate, a detergent and common ingredient in laxatives.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate (commonly known also as docusate sodium) uses:

Docusate is given to make stools softer and easier to pass. It is used to treat constipation due to hard stools, in painful anorectal conditions such as hemorrhoids, and for people who should avoid straining during bowel movements. Of note is that the effect of docusate may not necessarily be all due to its surfactant properties. Perfusion studies suggest that docusates inhibit fluid absorption or stimulate secretion in the portion of the small intestine known as the jejunum. Patients should take plenty of water to help the movement of feces, therefore speeding up the initial bowel movement.
...and its side effects...

Possible side effects are typically mild and include stomach pain, diarrhea, or cramping. Serious allergic reactions can occur with the drug. The most severe side effect of docusate, although very rare, is rectal bleeding.

Simply put: it's a laxative, ingested every day by millions.

Finally, we have Propylene Glycol. The list of uses is many and varied:

Propylene glycol is used:
  • As a solvent in many pharmaceuticals, including oral, injectable and topical formulations. Notably, diazepam, which is insoluble in water, uses propylene glycol as its solvent in its clinical, injectable form.
  • As a humectant food additive, labeled as E number E1520
  • As an emulsification agent in Angostura and orange bitters
  • As a moisturizer in medicines, cosmetics, food, toothpaste, mouth wash, and tobacco products
  • As a carrier in fragrance oils
  • As an ingredient in massage oils
  • In hand sanitizers, antibacterial lotions, and saline solutions
  • In smoke machines to make artificial smoke for use in firefighters' training and theatrical productions
  • In electronic cigarettes, as a vaporizable base for diluting the nicotine liquid
  • As a solvent for food colors and flavorings
  • As an ingredient, along with wax and gelatin, in the production of paintballs
  • As a moisture stabilizer (humectant) for snus (Swedish style snuff).
  • As a cooling agent for beer and wine glycol jacketed fermentation tanks
  • As a non-toxic antifreeze for winterizing drinking water systems, and in applications where the used antifreeze eventually will be drained into the soil, water, or a septic system.
  • As a less-toxic antifreeze in solar water heating systems
  • As a solvent used in mixing photographic chemicals, such as film developers
  • In cryonics
  • As a working fluid in hydraulic presses
  • As a coolant in liquid cooling systems
  • To regulate humidity in a cigar humidor
  • As the killing and preserving agent in pitfall traps, usually used to capture ground beetles
  • As an additive to pipe tobacco to prevent dehydration.
  • To treat livestock ketosis
  • As the main ingredient in deodorant sticks.
  • To de-ice aircraft.[7]
  • As an ingredient in UV or blacklight tattoo ink

Got a tattoo? You've been exposed. Ever used perfume? You've been exposed. Smoke (like me)? You've been exposed. Drink beer or wine? You've been exposed. Use cosmetics? You've been exposed.

Corexit 9500 isn't much different. The hazardous substance listing includes:
  • Distillates, petroleum, hydrotreated light
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Organic sulfonic acid salt

We know what the last two are; they are the same ingredients used in Corexit 9527A. The change is that the 2-Butoxyethanol is replaced with light petroleum distillates... really about the same thing, just probably cheaper to produce.

Now I imagine all the readers are busy screaming at their computer screens about how terrible the MSDS on these two dispersants are. Well, as someone who has been a HAZMAT-certified truck driver, I'm here to tell you that these read much less terrifyingly than, say, ammonia... or paint thinner... or gasoline... or rubbing alcohol. The MSDS is written to a worst-case scenario, as in a truck filled with this material suddenly flips over, leaks the stuff everywhere, soaks the groundwater with it, and then catches fire. If that happens, then the MSDS is completely on target. If not, then the MSDS is just there to tell us what to watch out for in case things turn ugly.

Corexit is, in short, a detergent (which we use everyday to wash grease out of cloths or off dishes) mixed with some different solvents to let the oil disperse harmlessly after the detergent encapsulates it. That's all.

This is not to say we don't have a terrible situation happening in the Gulf! Indeed we do! This is a major catastrophic event, and one that I am afraid may lead to more, even greater catastrophes down the road. But let's try to keep our heads and get the facts straight. Corexit is not going to destroy anything, and it is much much safer for the environment than crude oil (and whatever else might be leaking out).


[edit on 6/16/2010 by TheRedneck]

posted on Jun, 16 2010 @ 04:38 PM
I would disagree on Propylene Glycol being safe, even though the FDA say so. When has the FDA ever been wrong

Propylene Glycol

A cosmetic form of mineral oil found in automatic brake and hydraulic fluid and industrial antifreeze. In the skin and hair, propylene glycol works as a humescent, which causes retention of moisture content of skin or cosmetic products by preventing the escape of moisture or water. The Material Safety Data Sheet warns users to avoid skin contact with propylene glycol as this strong skin irritant can cause liver abnormalities and kidney damage.

Known health effects.

Eye irritation, skin irritation, skin drying, defatting. Ingestion has serious health effects similar to above.

posted on Jun, 16 2010 @ 04:40 PM
We touched on this in one of my topics last week. The solvent alone maybe be relatively "safe" but combined with other things...not so much. There are quite a few sources out there that say it's not such a hot idea to be using this...the EPA included apparently.

Nalco’s Chief Lobbies Congress on Gulf Oil Dispersant Bloomberg Businessweek, May 27

Worry About Dispersant Rises as Men in Work Crew Complain of Health Problems NYTimes, May 27

EPA Administrator Defends Response To Oil Spill, Use Of Dispersants NPR, May 25

Gulf Oil Spill: BP Trying To Hide Millions of Gallons of Toxic Oil? Protect the Ocean, May 3

And here's another article from Mother Jones saying that the agents are Corexit 9500 and Corexit(R) EC9527A, and that the among the side effects are "...contain 2-butoxyethanol, which can cause headaches, vomiting and reproductive problems at high dose."
Is the BP Clean-Up Creating A Toxic Soup in the Gulf?

[edit on 16-6-2010 by ~Lucidity]

posted on Jun, 16 2010 @ 04:44 PM
That is what I wonder also, when you take ingredients "conveniently by themselves they post not damage in most case but not all", but when they are combine with other ingredients then a reaction can happen, then the product result will not be so good after all but poison.

Now, I also wonder how this "solvent" will affect the fish and sea food once exposed to it, let no mention wild life bedside oil.

posted on Jun, 16 2010 @ 04:56 PM
Well, I wouldn't exactly take a bath in propylene glycol either... it is an irritant. The point is, however, that when we are faced with a choice of leaving the Gulf full of crude or introducing these chemicals, these chemicals appear pretty tame compared to the oil. I seriously doubt that any of the ingredients, alone or combined, will cause any greater havoc than we have already caused.

Besides, what else is there available in sufficient quantities that will do the same thing? I know there have been suggestions on everything from oil-eating bacteria to organic dispersants to some sort of hemp-based solution, but which of these can BP lay their hands on thousands of gallons of in a couple days notice? The oil is not going to wait until we can gear up a manufacturing plant for a better dispersant.


posted on Jun, 16 2010 @ 05:02 PM
reply to post by TheRedneck

A few things from what I've seen mentioned in other topics, but I can't remember what at the moment. And other things. less harmful things are, as I understand it, being deployed in the cleanup (animal hair, hay, and things like that). Then there's the microbial thing? For some reason they're hesitating on using that but I've only seen that mentioned in passing don't know much about that from what I've read so far...just haven't had the time.

I think it's megaconcerning that the EPA said don't use it and they are.

posted on Jun, 16 2010 @ 05:45 PM

off-topic post removed to prevent thread-drift


posted on Jun, 17 2010 @ 08:13 AM
reply to post by ~Lucidity

I personally don't have a lot of faith in the EPA. This is the same agency that banned DDT because a test where they gave one group of birds a diet with traces of DDT showed a decrease in eggshell thickness. What is lesser known is that the diet was also calcium-deficient (eggshells are of calcium). DDT is the most efficient way to kill mosquitoes,which carry malaria. That isn't a problem in the USA, but in many other countries children die in wholesale fashion from malaria every year. Some of them have broke ranks with the US and allowed the use of DDT in their country to resume, but others have not.

They are also the agency now clamoring to regulate carbon dioxide levels in the air. At the same time, they allow big business to pump much more toxic materials into the atmosphere.

I don't believe there are any EPA scientists on scene watching this destruction; I would suppose they are all busy in their little labs doing their experiments. That's fine; it's their job. But in the meantime, the Gulf of Mexico is dying. Corexit seems to be the best hope to clean up the oil as it enters the water and, again, is much less hazardous than the crude itself.

I am a bit confused about one thing: suddenly we are to trust the government (EPA) over the scientists working for BP?


posted on Jun, 17 2010 @ 08:24 AM
-I've never heard anyone say a toxic gas cloud would form from corexit

- 2-Butox is a paint solvent, so you think this isn't dangerous? How dangerous do you think it would be if I dumped millions of gallons of paint solvent into the ocean? The oil spill is gushing 2.5 million gallons a day of oil, so you'd need at least a million gallons (conservatively) of paint solvent to fix the problem.

- EPA, aren't they against carbon and vitamin C?

- Laxative, hmm, sounds great for the fish, I guess we can't go swimming this year kids, to much fish poop, not to mention the beaches are black.

So in summation, you are saying that the same thing that is used to de-ice aircraft is not dangerous to dump in mass quantities into the ocean? And you wonder why you keep hearing bad things about it?

[edit on 17-6-2010 by filosophia]

posted on Jun, 17 2010 @ 11:00 AM
reply to post by filosophia

I was being a little tongue-in-cheek with the 'noxious cloud of poisonous gas' remark, sorry. There have been all sorts of accusations that it will be worse than the oil on the ecosystem, however.

If we were dumping this in an area of pristine water, yes, I would be dead-set against it. But this is not pristine water. This is an oil/water mix, and not even refined oil at that. It contains all the elements of gasoline, diesel, and motor oil in varying amounts... and that includes the ingredients also found in paint thinner... that will kill the ecosystem if left in place.

We have two choices here: leave it be and hope for the best, or try to clean it up. As oil has a very long lifespan in water before it turns into anything else (maybe ocean-bottom sludge in 50 years time?), I don't think leaving it be would be such a great idea. So we have to clean it up. And in order to clean it up, we have no choice but to use chemicals. And so far as chemicals go, Corexit seems like a much smaller hazard than what is already there, and it is available immediately.

I'm just trying to get the facts out. I started writing this post not knowing if I would be pro- or anti-using Corexit. I let the information I found lead me.


posted on Jun, 20 2010 @ 01:31 AM
does anyone know if this person knows what he or she is writing about?

any truth here? is 2B like roundup? from what we've been told it's mild like baby detergent. the GM connection is freakish.

[edit on 20-6-2010 by ~Lucidity]

posted on Jun, 20 2010 @ 01:41 AM
I've written to representatives, senators, and environmental organizations, and none of them have taken any action to stop the use of dispersants. It is a frustrating feeling knowing that they are toxic and making things worst, but no way of stopping it.

posted on Jun, 20 2010 @ 01:45 AM
Okay, this is old and may have been posted somewhere already but did you guys know that the air force is spraying this stuff? i didn't.

posted on Jun, 20 2010 @ 01:53 AM
reply to post by ~Lucidity

I didn't know that until now, thanks for post that video.

posted on Jun, 20 2010 @ 11:42 AM
reply to post by TheRedneck

Well, I wouldn't exactly take a bath in propylene glycol either... it is an irritant. The point is, however, that when we are faced with a choice of leaving the Gulf full of crude or introducing these chemicals, these chemicals appear pretty tame compared to the oil. I seriously doubt that any of the ingredients, alone or combined, will cause any greater havoc than we have already caused.

You're right on, Redneck. Life is a choice of the lesser of two evils in most situations. Not using it, would be the greater evil here.

Anyway, I would also like to wish YOU and all the other fathers on ATS a very HAPPY FATHERS DAY.


P.S. -Starred and Flagged!

[edit on 20-6-2010 by ProfEmeritus]

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