The EPA just released the first round of results from its ongoing testing of dispersants. The agency has been studying at the short- and long-term impacts of Corexit, the type of dispersant BP has been using in massive quantities in the Gulf, and seven alternative products. Here's the agency's conclusion:
EPA’s results indicated that none of the eight dispersants tested, including the product in use in the Gulf, displayed biologically significant endocrine disrupting activity. While the dispersant products alone—not mixed with oil—have roughly the same impact on aquatic life, JD-2000 and Corexit 9500 were generally less toxic to small fish and JD-2000 and SAF-RON GOLD were least toxic to mysid shrimp.
The release includes this key caveat, however: "While this is important information to have, additional testing is needed to further inform the use of dispersants." This is only the "first stage" of testing, the agency said.
The agency also upheld their directive last month that BP reduce the use of dispersants in the Gulf, noting that "EPA believes BP should use as little dispersant as necessary." (BP has not been meeting the agency's goals, however.)
"We want to ensure that every tool is available to mitigate the impact of the BP spill and protect our fragile wetlands," said EPA administrator Lisa Jackson in a statement. "But we continue to direct BP to use dispersants responsibly and in as limited an amount as possible."
The next phase of EPA's testing will assess the acute toxicity of multiple concentrations of Louisiana Sweet Crude Oil alone and in combinations with each of the eight dispersants.