The risk of a major marine fuel spill in Antarctic waters is increasing, yet there are currently no standard or suitable response methods under extreme Antarctic conditions. Fuel dispersants may present a possible solution; however, little data exist on the toxicity of dispersants or fuels to Antarctic species, thereby preventing informed management decisions. Larval development toxicity tests using 3 life history stages of the Antarctic sea urchin (Sterechinus neumayeri) were completed to assess the toxicity of physically dispersed, chemically dispersed, and dispersant-only water-accommodated fractions (WAFs) of an intermediate fuel oil (IFO 180, BP) and the chemical dispersant Slickgone NS (Dasic International). Despite much lower total petroleum hydrocarbon concentrations, physically dispersed fuels contained higher proportions of low-to-intermediate weight carbon compounds and were generally at least an order of magnitude more toxic than chemically dispersed fuels. Based on concentrations that caused 50% abnormality (EC50) values, the embryonic unhatched blastula life stage was the least affected by fuels and dispersants, whereas the larval 4-armed pluteus stage was the most sensitive. The present study is the first to investigate the possible implications of the use of fuel dispersants for fuel spill response in Antarctica. The results indicate that the use of a fuel dispersant did not increase the hydrocarbon toxicity of IFO 180 to the early life stages of Antarctic sea urchins, relative to physical dispersal. Environ Toxicol Chem 2016;9999:1-9. © 2016 SETAC.
Alexander, FJ, King, CK, Reichelt-Brushett, AJ & Harrison, PL in press, 'Fuel oil and dispersant toxicity to the Antarctic sea urchin (Sterechinus neumayeri)', Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.
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