Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
DWH Project Funding
Known Leveraged Funding
Funding Source: BP and Transocean
Controlling Document: Guilty Plea Agreement between BP and U.S. Department of Justice, Guilty Plea Agreement between Transocean and U.S. Department of Justice
Year Awarded: 2018
Oil “photo-products” are formed at the water surface in large quantities in the early phase of an oil spill by the interaction of floating oil with sunlight. Although these products are persistent and potentially toxic, there is significant uncertainty about translating their environmental concentration to potential toxic effects. Currently, there is insufficient information to account for these products when assessing fishery closures or public health risk, or evaluating the impacts of an oil spill. Instead, practitioners typically focus on the concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a small fraction of photo-oxidized oil. In fact, there is emerging evidence that PAHs alone fail to explain toxic effects of such oil residues. This proposed project aims to improve the current practice of oil spill risk and damage assessment by producing quantitative data for the formation, exposure, and toxicity of oil photo-products, and by integrating this information into algorithms that can be used for oil spill risk assessment This project will test the hypothesis that oil photo-products lead to significant health risks and organism injury.