Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Marine Chemist Says 'Not So Fast' To Quick Oil Detection Method

Date:
June 2, 2008
Source:
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Summary:
A new method for assessing environmental contamination after oil spills is in danger of being applied in situations where it doesn't work and might produce false conclusions.

Marine chemist Chris Reddy samples oiled rocks from the edge of San Francisco Bay in December 2007.
Credit: Bryce Reddy

A new method for assessing environmental contamination after oil spills is in danger of being applied in situations where it doesn't work and might produce false conclusions, a scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has warned.

Private firms and government agencies have recently started using long strands of absorbent polypropylene snares, also called “pom-poms,” as a means to check for contamination of the seafloor in the wake of an oil spill. The method is becoming popular because it is rapid and low-cost.

But according to WHOI marine chemist Christopher Reddy, the approach may give a false sense of security. In a recently published letter to the Marine Pollution Bulletin, Reddy notes that while the pom-pom method is effective in locating areas where excessive amounts of oil have sunk to the bottom, it does not necessarily identify the fractions and compounds of oil that can linger in sediments and have long-term impacts on ecosystems and public health.

Following a 2004 oil spill in the Delaware River, emergency response crews employed the new pom-pom method to quickly determine the locations of large oil patches on the river floor. The information was invaluable for the emergency response and cleanup.

After the M/V Cosco Busan oil spill in San Francisco Bay in November 2007, the pom-pom method was used again. But this time, the goal was to determine if sediments near the Port of Oakland were safe to be dredged and re-used in restoration projects.

“This approach is flawed,” Reddy wrote. “It relies on the assumption that the lack of visible oil on the snares…indicates a total lack of oil contamination in the sediment…While testing of sediments with snares delivers rapid, low-cost data, it is only an indicator of gross contamination.”

“Before this approach becomes standard practice for determining whether sediments have been contaminated at levels that may impact ecosystems,” Reddy added, “prudence dictates much more rigorous testing of the test itself.”

Funding for this research was provided by the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund and the WHOI Coastal Ocean Institute.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Christopher M. Reddy. A cautionary tale about evaluating analytical methods to assess contamination after oil spills. Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 29 April 2008 DOI: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2008.03.024

Cite This Page:

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. "Marine Chemist Says 'Not So Fast' To Quick Oil Detection Method." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 June 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080528145410.htm>.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. (2008, June 2). Marine Chemist Says 'Not So Fast' To Quick Oil Detection Method. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080528145410.htm
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. "Marine Chemist Says 'Not So Fast' To Quick Oil Detection Method." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080528145410.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Balloon Descends to Bottom of Croatian Cave

Raw: Balloon Descends to Bottom of Croatian Cave

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) An Austrian balloon pilot has succeeded in taking a balloon deep underground, a feat which he believes is a world first. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bodies Recovered from Japan Volcano Eruption

Bodies Recovered from Japan Volcano Eruption

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Rescue crews finished recovering the remaining 27 bodies from atop Japan's Mount Ontake Monday. At least 31 people were killed Saturday in the mountain's first fatal volcanic event in modern history. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Japan's Mount Ontake Erupts

Raw: Japan's Mount Ontake Erupts

AP (Sep. 27, 2014) A volcano erupted in central Japan on Saturday, sending a large plume of ash high into the sky and prompting a warning to climbers and others to avoid the area. (Sept. 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins