If you are like me, you have been hearing a lot about the oil dispersants that are being used in the Gulf in order to minimize the impact of the oil that is currently on the surface of the water. I for one, had no idea how these products worked, so I decided to do a bit of digging and this is what I have found out.
Nalco Holdings is providing most of the dispersants that are being used by BP. When going to Nalco’s web site (http://www.nalco.com/applications/oil-spill-dispersants.htm) I was able to determine that their product is designed to help break up the large oil slicks on the surface into much smaller droplets that drop below the surface of the water, where they can be moved around by wind, current, and wave actions. In addition, these smaller droplets have less adhesion thus helping fish, birds, boats, & shorelines.
I have also read that once this oil is broken up, there are crustaceans, shrimp-like organisms, and plankton that can and hopefully will ingest the oil if it is broken into small enough particles and distributed throughout the water column. Obviously this will take many years, as I am sure oil is not the top item on these organisms dietary list.
We welcome comments from anyone who has specific knowledge about how this oil will be ingested and what impact it will have on the organisms that do ingest it.