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Images: Did Dispersants Help Responders Breathe Easier?

Ships thronged the area near the Deepwater Horizon oil rig with responders working to stem the spill and mitgate damage. A new study finds that dispersants used at the Deepwater Horizon site may have dramatically improved the air quality for responders and presumably reduced the number of days when the air quality was too poor and responders had to don respirators and/or had to suspend cleanup efforts. (Wikipedia Commons)
In the midst of the Deepwater Horizon crisis, officials made the unprecedented and controversial decision to inject more than 700,000 gallons of chemical dispersant over 67 days immediately above the oil rig’s severed wellhead at the bottom of the ocean. By breaking up petroleum into smaller droplets that dissolved faster in the deep ocean, the dispersants decreased the amounts of volatile toxic compounds that rose to the surface and outgassed into the air, according to study published Aug. 28, 2017 in Proceedings of the National Acaddemy of Sciences. (Natalie Renier, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution researchers wear respirators in preparation to work on the top deck of the reserach vesssel Endeavor during a rapid-response expedition to the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico in June of 2010. If you look closely, you can also see small circular orangle badges to grossly monitor air quality.  (Dan Torres, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
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