Sand Patties Provide Evidence for the Presence of Deepwater Horizon Oil on the Beaches of the West Florida Shelf

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Deepwater Horizon, Oil spill, DWH, Mutagenic, DOSS, PAH profile

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The ecological consequences of the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill are both long-term and pervasive. The distribution of toxicity and mutagenicity in the Gulf of Mexico suggests oil from the DWH spill could have contaminated the West Florida Shelf (WFS). We utilized polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) analysis to determine presence and potential origin of oil contaminants in beach sand patty samples. PAH profiles from WFS beaches were statistically significantly similar to DWH contaminated samples from the Northeast Gulf of Mexico (Gulf Shores, AL; Ft. Pickens, FL). Dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate (DOSS), a major component of Corexit 9500 dispersant was also detected in the sediments. DOSS concentrations ranged from 1.6 to 5.5ngg(-1) dry weight. Additionally, two samples from DWH oil contaminated beaches were acutely toxic and one WFS beach sediment sample was mutagenic. These observations provide support for the theory that DWH oil made its way onto beaches of the WFS.

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Marine Pollution Bulletin, v. 97, issues 1–2, p. 67-77