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WUSF News Staff
Sun April 15, 2012
BP Oil May Be Showing Up on Beachgoers' Skin
It may look like the it's gone -- but oil from the BP spill may be mixing with dispersants and being absorbed into your body.
That's the disturbing revelation from a USF researcher in a story by Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times.
Photos show that under a blue light, oily spots remain on the skin after bathing on panhandle beaches -- even after a shower.
From the Times story:
The oil he found lies in what's called the swash zone, just below where the waves lap against the sand. When a "plunge step" forms there, small flakes of weathered oil or even large tar patties settle there, mingled with shell debris, he found.
Studies have found that the dispersant used to break up the oil slick, Corexit, can be toxic to the bacteria that would normally gobble up oil in the gulf. That's why the oil is still showing up two years later, he said. When Corexit bound with the oil, it prevented bacteria from consuming it.
The concentrations of toxic hydrocarbons in the flakes and patties are above the level considered to be dangerous under federal standards, he said. That's what makes him so concerned about how quickly the dispersant-mixed oil absorbs into human skin.
Pittman's story also says dolphins are dying at a heightened rate and some fish species are showing DNA damage.
The two-year anniversary of the BP oil spill is later this week.
Check out this video which shows the same phenomenon -- disperant and oil appear to be very difficult, if not impossible, to wash off your skin.