A new report based on data collected during BP's oil spill shows that high concentrations of toxic chemicals spread deep into the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon's explosion.
The chemicals, called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs, can kill animals right away in high enough concentrations and can cause cancer over time.How persistent they are (and will be) is still uncertain.
"From the time that these observations were made, there was an extensive release of additional oil and dispersants at the site. Therefore, the effects on the deep sea ecosystem may be considerably more severe than supported by the observations reported here," the researchers wrote in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
The initial tests showed they were at high levels very deep under the water, the report shows.New information about the effects of the spill continues to come out, and as long as it does, I will continue posting it here.
"Based on our findings, subsurface exposure to PAH resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil release was likely to be associated with acute toxicity effects in discrete depth layers between 1,000 and 1,400 meters in the region southwest of the wellhead site and extending at least as far as 13 km," the research team wrote.
PAHs include a group of compounds, and different types were at different depths, they said.
It is possible they dissipate quickly, but no one has yet showed this, they added.
"Our findings suggest that toxicity effects of the subsurface PAH compounds could have extended at least as far as 13 km from the wellhead site," the researchers said.
In September a team at Oregon State University said they found alarming levels of PAHs in the region, 40 times higher than before the area was affected by the oil spill.