New research shows crude oil chemicals move and change more quickly than EPA standards

March 03, 2017

The Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, lists about 65 chemicals as "toxic pollutants" under the Clean Water Act, 16 of which are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs. LSU Department of Environmental Sciences doctoral candidate Parichehr Saranjampour conducted research on a chemical class of PAHs that is not on the EPA's list -- Dibenzothiophene, or DBT. DBT and its three related chemical compounds contain sulfur that is found in crude oil. Saranjampour studied how these chemical compounds move and change over time, which revealed new information that has never been published before. Her findings differ from the EPA's information about these chemical compounds. This new research was published today in the Journal of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

Saranjampour studied two processes that chemicals undergo -- evaporation and oxidation, or what happens when something is exposed to air and light. From lab experiments, she found that one compound oxidized faster than the currently accepted rate relative to the two compounds. She also found that another compound evaporates and is released into the air faster than previously thought, which may have implications on land animals and humans who come into contact with oil, such as oil rig workers.

"These results indicate that the sulfur containing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the crude oil may evaporate very fast after an oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico surface water," Saranjampour said. However, her research also shows that these chemicals may linger in deeper water and convert into other chemicals that may be more water soluble.

These chemicals are not only found after a crude oil spill, but they can also be found in water and sediment where crude oil or diesel fuel are present.

"These results call for more research by environmental chemists and toxicologists to investigate the environmental impacts of these chemicals in water, sediment, air and on living organisms," she said.

She is currently investigating the toxicity of these chemical compounds.

Louisiana State University

Related Oil Spill Articles from Brightsurf:

Oil spill clean- up gets doggone hairy
A study investigating sustainable-origin sorbent materials to clean up oil spill disasters has made a surprising discovery.

Political 'oil spill': Polarization is growing stronger and getting stickier
Experts have documented that political polarization is intensifying in the United States.

Oil spill: where and when will it reach the beach? Answers to prevent environmental impacts
When an accident involving oil spills occurs, forecasting the behaviour of the oil slick and understanding in advance where and when it will reach the coastline is crucial to organize an efficient emergency response that is able to limit environmental and economic repercussions.

Chemical herders could impact oil spill cleanup
Oil spills in the ocean can cause devastation to wildlife, so effective cleanup is a top priority.

Study shows continuing impacts of Deepwater Horizon oil spill
Nine years ago tomorrow -- April 20, 2010 -- crude oil began leaking from the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig into the Gulf of Mexico in what turned out to be the largest marine oil spill in history.

New report examines the safety of using dispersants in oil spill clean ups
A multi-disciplinary team of scientists has issued a series of findings and recommendations on the safety of using dispersal agents in oil spill clean-up efforts in a report published this month by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.

What plants can teach us about oil spill clean-up, microfluidics
For years, scientists have been inspired by nature to innovate solutions to tricky problems, even oil spills -- manmade disasters with devastating environmental and economic consequences.

Top oil spill expert available to discuss new oil spill dispersant research
Internationally recognized oil spill expert, Nancy Kinner, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of New Hampshire is available to discuss new post-Deepwater Horizon (DWH) dispersant research and its use in future oil spill responses.

Gulf spill oil dispersants associated with health symptoms in cleanup workers
Workers who were likely exposed to dispersants while cleaning up the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill experienced a range of health symptoms including cough and wheeze, and skin and eye irritation, according to scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

New view of dispersants used after Deepwater Horizon oil spill
New research has uncovered an added dimension to the decision to inject large amounts of chemical dispersants above the crippled seafloor oil well during the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010.

Read More: Oil Spill News and Oil Spill Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to