Oil dispersant increases PAH uptake by fish exposed to crude oil.
Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2004 Nov;59(3):300-8. PMID: 15388269
School of Environmental Studies, Queen's University, Kingston, Ont., Canada K7L 3N6.
The use of oil dispersants is a controversial countermeasure in the effort to minimize the impact of oil spills. The risk of ecological effects will depend on whether oil dispersion increases or decreases the exposure of aquatic species to the toxic components of oil. To evaluate whether fish would be exposed to more polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) in dispersed oil relative to equivalent amounts of the water-accommodated fraction (WAF), measurements were made of CYP1A induction in trout exposed to the dispersant (Corexit 9500), WAFs, and the chemically enhanced WAF (dispersant; CEWAF) of three crude oils. The crude oils comprised the higher viscosity Mesa and Terra Nova and the less viscous Scotian Light. Total petroleum hydrocarbon and PAH concentrations in the test media were determined to relate the observed CYP1A induction in trout to dissolved fractions of the crude oil. CYP1A induction was 6- to 1100-fold higher in CEWAF treatments than in WAF treatments, with Terra Nova having the greatest increase, followed by Mesa and Scotian Light. Mesa had the highest induction potential with the lowest EC50 values for both WAF and CEWAF. The dispersant Corexit was not an inducer and it did not appear to affect the permeability of the gill surface to known inducers such as beta-napthoflavone. These experiments suggest that the use of oil dispersants will increase the exposure of fish to hydrocarbons in crude oil.