Injae Shin, Ph.D.
Department of Chemistry
ARTICLE #2 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oil spill clean-up agents threaten coral reefs
Environmental Science & Technology
In a setback for efforts to protect endangered coral reefs from oil spills, researchers in Israel report that oil dispersants the best tool for treating oil spills in tropical areas are significantly more toxic to coral than the oil they are used to clean up. Their study, which urges caution in the use of these materials, is scheduled for the August 1 issue of ACS Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-monthly journal.
Called the rainforests of the sea, coral reefs are an endangered ecosystem and are disappearing at an alarming rate due to numerous threats, including over-fishing, global warming and pollution, particularly oil spills. Besides hosting a rich diversity of marine organisms, these habitats are also potential sources of life-saving medicines and food for humans. Scientists looking for better ways to protect this important habitat have recently focused on the environmental impact of oil dispersants, detergents used break down oil spills into smaller, less harmful droplets.