Gulf Seafood Isn't Tested for Oil Dispersants

Current tests detect only the oil itself, and research is thin

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 14, 2010 7:27 PM CDT

(Newser) – Seafood lovers may want to keep this in mind: Anything coming from the Gulf of Mexico is being tested for contamination by oil, but not for contamination by chemical oil dispersants. BP has so far used 1.7 million gallons of one in particular, notes ProPublica. "There’s no need for hysteria," writes Marian Wang, "but it’s good to be aware of unanswered questions and possible gaps in the current testing."

A spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says a test for dispersants is in the works. Until then, officials are going by the "current science" that dispersants have low potential for harm. "There’s not a huge body of research that has been done,” says an FDA spokeswoman. “While we are finding that (dispersant) is harmful to the living fish itself, there’s a difference between what it does to a living fish and any harm that it might have for a human consuming a fish that was in or near water with dispersant in it.”

A seafood tester demonstrates how to smell for oil contamination as he moves the air across a bowl of shrimp at NOAA's seafood inspection program in Pascagoula, Miss.
A seafood tester demonstrates how to smell for oil contamination as he moves the air across a bowl of shrimp at NOAA's seafood inspection program in Pascagoula, Miss.   (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
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