However, scientists also reported the amount of time the oil remained at sea and exposed to weather had a significant effect on its toxicity to the fertilized duck eggs, said Phil Smith, an associate professor at TIEHH. They published their findings in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, the peer-reviewed flagship journal of Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC).
“If you can imagine a duck egg with about 10 percent of its surface area coated with this particular substance we found in the Gulf, you would expect about half of the bird embryos to die, according to our study,” Smith said.
Because the timing of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill coincided with nesting periods for large numbers of Gulf Coast birds, Smith said researchers were interested in discovering the toxicity of the crude oil that was floating offshore and coated about 600 miles of beaches and marshlands.
Using a standardized method for examining the oil’s toxicity, 160 eggs were treated with varying amounts of crude oil collected off the coast of Alabama about a month after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
“These kinds of studies have been conducted for about 40 or 50 years,” he said. “It’s not a novel or unique method for evaluating the toxicity of any kind of crude oil. What is novel about our approach is we went out to the Gulf and collected crude oil that was available during the spill. This method allowed for a realistic exposure scenario among bird eggs on the Gulf Coast during that time period. In that respect it’s somewhat unique.”
When compared to the toxicity of fresh crude oil from the ground, Smith found the weathered crude oil in the study ranged from 1.7 to 24 times less toxic than fresh crude oil.
“By the time that oil made it through dispersant and was transported to the coast, it had degraded significantly,” Smith said. “Birds that were exposed to oil in the Gulf may have transported it back to their nests and subsequently exposed incubating eggs in nests. The weathering process made it less toxic to bird embryos. That doesn’t discount the fact that the weathered oil was a significant physical hazard to the adult birds, but that wasn’t the focus of our study.”
Smith said about 61 percent of the treated eggs died. Among those that hatched, the researchers found no significant differences in deformities or malformations when compared to the control group.
“This study provided toxicity values for this particular oil to assist in risk and damage evaluations and reaffirmed that weathered crude oil is less toxic than fresh crude oil,” Smith said. “Recent evidence in fish studies points to potential developmental effects that could result in reduced fitness traits that do not become manifest until later in life. Aside from acute lethality, it would seem important to evaluate potential for developmental or latent effects in birds exposed while still in the egg.”
Watch Smith’s interview here.
For a copy of the report, contact John Davis.
Find Texas Tech news, experts and story ideas at www.media.ttu.edu and on Twitter @TexasTechMedia.
CONTACT: Phil Smith, associate professor, The Institute of Environmental and Human Health, Texas Tech University, (806) 885-4567 or email@example.com
Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT
Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy