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Zeta Angelich
Zeta Angelich
Director of Marketing, Micro-Bac International, Inc., Round Rock, Texas; Adjunct Professor St. Edward's University, Austin, Texas
 

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Dispersants...just what do they do?

May 14, 2010 3:20 pm

Dispersant disperses the oil but does not make it degrade. It is a cosmetic approach, by removing the spill; it seems to solve the problem. Dennis Ray Schneider, Ph.D., VP & Director of Research & Development explains; “The dispersants used are making the oil disperse into tiny droplets, actually increasing the area of contact between the oil and the ocean water. This increased area means that more of the toxic components of the oil are in contact with the water and the marine life in the water. They are used because they reduce the visible oil slick and the mechanical impact of the spill on wildlife (e.g. oil covered bird photo opportunities by enraged environmentalists). The problems caused by the oil toxicity are still present after using the dispersant—they are just made more out of sight and probably hopefully then, out of mind. The actual toxic effect of the spill on the Gulf of Mexico waters has yet to be assessed.” The dispersant is made from crude oil products and BP produces the feedstock chemicals that are used to make dispersants so they or other oil companies are indirectly profiting from their own solution.

Microbes are bacteria and that word confuses and frightens a lot of people when in fact 99.9% of all bacteria in the world are useful and not harmful, that is less than 1%.

Marine microorganisms will naturally degrade the oil over time as they have for millions of years. Oil has been below the ocean surface for as long and “mother nature” may know what is best, but in a situation such as the oil spill from Deepwater Horizon, she needs help to speed the healing process along. Using chemicals to correct environmental problems because real science may not be understood, such as the use of bacteria, is the "quick fix" syndrome many have in the U.S. while other countries like Brazil, China, Ecuador and European countries are more inclined to use bacteria/microbial products to clean up environmental hazards. I wonder why?

Bioremediation of the coastal regions will be the next step, and ongoing.

 
Bob Butler
May 17, 2010 at 4:08 pm
Some Scientists Believe Clean-Up Could Make Things Worse?

Great blog... what are your thoughts on the recent paper "Caution Required for Gulf Oil Spill Clean-Up, Bioremediation Expert Says"

Thinker's Post
Zeta Angelich
May 19, 2010 at 1:11 pm

Hi Bob,

Thanks for your comment and interest. Most of us that live along the coastlines cannot avoid this topic. The article you mention, "Caution Required for Gulf Oil Spill Clean-up", is right on. I asked Dr. Schneider's thoughts on the article, and he says Terry Hazen is well respected in the field.

I will use the analogy of the human body catching a cold or virus and the immune system doing its work to heal, just as the earth is designed in such a way that she can take care of many of the hazards thrown at her, such as the oil spill and using her microorganisms to clean it up. Of course, the human body can do so much to fight off all of the additives, pollutants, etc., just as our earth can only do so much. So do we continue to eat high fat foods, smoke and not exercise, or do we pay more attention, watch what we put in our bodies and take care of our health; the earths health? All things in moderation.

Using microbial products designed to bioremediate oil is giving Mother Nature a hand in cleaning up "our" mess in a safer fashion for the environment and returning it to its natural state, if not even better. As Dr. Schneider says, "Using microbial products to clean up the oil spill is like putting Mother Nature on Calf Pow."

 

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