Offering a scientific perspective, this paper provides a rationale for the use of dispersants in oil spill remediation by discussing their formulations and modes of action and connecting their physics and chemistry to a their environmental fates and impacts. With the first use of dispersants at the source of the oil release during the Deepwater Horizon incident, there is a new great need for understanding the efficiency and the environmental impacts of their use. The paper concludes with some cautionary recommendations on dispersant research.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge funding from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI). We also acknowledge the help of Matthew Perkins (Oregon State University), David Riehm (University of Minnesota), Kai Ziervogel (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Olasehinde Owoseni (Tulane University), and Melissa Kido Soule (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution).