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A (Scary) Cautionary Tale

by Abby Zimet

It turns out B.P.'s Deepwater Horizon spill of almost five million gallons of oil wasn't nearly as disastrous as the two million gallons of dispersants used to clean it up - which, in a synergistic interaction, becomes up to 52 times more toxic to small organisms when mixed with oil. This from a new study in the journal Environmental Pollution, which found that while the dispersants make the oil less visible by breaking it up, the combination becomes far more deadly. The study's authors also note that the EPA kept congratulating itself on how well it all came out, further suggesting, entirely reasonably, it's past time to get the science right. How many more cautionary tales can we afford, we wonder, before we have no planet?