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LSU College of the Coast and Environment

LSU research on oil differs from EPA predictions

Date Posted: March 17, 2017

Research conducted at LSU on four commercially available chemicals traditionally found around crude oil spills concluded that some of these chemicals move and change at different rates than originally predicted.

Parichehr Saranjampour, an LSU Department of Environmental Sciences doctoral candidate, and her colleagues recently had their discoveries published in the Journal of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

Saranjampour studied what happens to these chemicals when they are exposed to air and light. She discovered one of the compounds oxidizes at a faster rate and one of them evaporates into the air at a faster rate than the previously predicted rates. The chemical, dibenzothiophene, or DBT, and its three chemical compounds contain sulfur found in crude oil.

Based on her findings, she said, more research would be needed to find out if these chemicals could be toxic.

“These results call for more research by environmental chemists and toxicologists to investigate the environmental impacts of these chemicals in water, sediment, air and on living organisms,” Saranjampour said.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency lists about 65 chemicals as toxic pollutants under the Clean Water Act. Saranjampour said her findings don’t necessarily mean that any of the chemicals should be put on the list yet but that the EPA may want to look into doing so.

She is now doing more experiments to look into whether these chemicals could be toxic to fish and other aquatic animals. After all, the EPA tests that have to be done to add chemicals to the list are expensive.

“It’s important that (the EPA) consider it and do more research,” Saranjampour said. “To do toxicity testing, EPA has to spend about $1 million per chemical to do all the testing that is required for them to make that decision.”

Source: Houma Today