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Oil Spills Boost Arsenic Levels in Ocean: Study

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posted on Jul, 5 2010 @ 08:24 PM

The research was conducted in a laboratory before the BP oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, but its authors say the findings highlight the worrying long-term impact from such disasters.

Scientists at Imperial College London found that sea floor sediment bonds with arsenic. The captured toxic element is then covered by subsequent layers of sediment, which helps explain why concentrations of arsenic in the ocean are low.

Oil spills can boost levels of arsenic in seawater by suppressing a natural filter mechanism on the sea bed, according to a study published on Friday in a specialist journal.

"However, the real danger lies in arsenic's ability to accumulate, which means that each subsequent spill raises the levels of this pollutant in seawater. Our study is a timely reminder that oil spills could create a toxic ticking time bomb, which could threaten the fabric of the marine ecosystem in the future."

Arsenic is found in many minerals and is present in oil. At high levels in seawater, it can disrupt photosynthesis in microcopic marine plans and increase the risk of genetic defects in aquatic life.

But i dont want to fear monger, im sure everything will be just fine right??


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