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Effects of oil dispersant on an enclosed ecosystem


, : Effects of oil dispersant on an enclosed ecosystem. Environmental Science and Technology, 214: 374-382

The effects of a North Sea oil with and without the addition of an oil spill dispersant were studied in a model of the littoral ecosystem of the Baltic Sea. Measured ecosystem parameters included abundance of heterotrophic bacteria, periphyton and phytoplankton photosynthesis, growth of bladderwrack, zooplankton abundance and diversity, physiological responses of certain crustaceans and molluscs, and growth of blue mussels. In addition, net photosynthesis and respiration of the ecosystem were studied. Concentrations of oil in water and blue mussels were monitored. The results of the experiments showed that almost all the measured parameters were affected, although several of the results indicated a stronger response to oil alone than to oil plus dispersant. On the basis of the results of this experiment, it may be concluded that the use of oil dispersants on diverse shallow water communities may produce greater acute effects than if a dispersant is not used. The long-term effects, however, may prove to be less severe than the dispersion of oil by natural processes.

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