Corexit’s shady rep revealed

The dispersant Corexit 9500 being used on the oil spilling from the Rena stranded on the Astrolabe Reef first came to public attention during the Deepwater Horizon well head blowout in 2010.

Corexit 9500 was widely used in the Gulf of Mexico, and shared the blame with its predecessor Corexit 9527A for the severe health effects reported by people who came in contact with it. Corexit has a reputation for rupturing red blood cells, causing internal bleeding and liver and kidney damage.

According to Maritime NZ, the Corexit being used on the Rena spillage “has been widely tested and has very low toxicity”.

It is 10-20 per cent less toxic than dishwashing liquid and the ingredients that make up the dispersant are in most shampoos.

MNZ is blaming any toxicity on the oil, not the dispersant, but a fact sheet for medical practitioners tells a completely different story.

The Manufacturer’s Safety Data Sheet for one of the Corexit ingredients, Norpar 13 includes these recommended safety precautions.

Use supplied-air respiratory protection in confined or enclosed spaces, if needed.

Use chemical-resistant gloves, if needed, to avoid prolonged or repeated skin contact.

Use splash goggles or face shield when eye contact may occur.

Use chemical-resistant apron or other impervious clothing, if needed, to avoid contaminating regular clothing, which could result in prolonged or repeated skin contact.

Minimize breathing vapour or mist. Avoid prolonged or repeated contact with skin. Remove contaminated clothing; launder or dry-clean before re-use. Remove contaminated shoes and thoroughly clean and dry before re-use.

Cleanse skin thoroughly after contact, before breaks and meals, and at the end of work period.

Product is readily removed from skin by waterless hand cleaners followed by washing thoroughly with soap and water.

Norpar 13 is also highly flammable, but it has a low order of acute oral and dermal toxicity, but minute amounts aspirated into the lungs during ingestion or vomiting may cause mild to severe pulmonary injury and possibly death.

Corexit contains arsenic, chromium and copper. Copper and Chromium are essential trace elements.

Arsenic is present at a concentration of 0.16 parts per million. If direct dermal contact, inhalation, or ingestion (as with ocean spray) occurs, this metal could cause health effects, depending on the dose, specific exposure conditions and individual susceptibilities. Arsenic attacks many of the same organs as chemicals in crude oil and dispersants. With sufficient exposure, it can damage the liver, kidneys, nervous system, reproductive system, respiratory system, skin, reproductive/urogenital system, and immune system.  It can cause mutations and endocrine disruption, cancer, and can harm the developing foetus.

Combined effects of multiple chemicals on the same organ system can be far more serious if they are sufficient to overwhelm the body’s ability to detoxify or otherwise defend against toxic effects.

When Norpar 13 is used in a dispersant, it is diluted by other ingredients.  The toxicity of the product depends on the combination of its ingredients and so may be more or less toxic than this ingredient.

There is confusion about the relative toxicity of the oil on the ocean beach.  Yesterday’s press conference the MNZ line remains, don’t touch, don’t try to clean it up, people handling it need protective clothing.

However, medical officer of health Dr Jim Miller’s advice is more relaxed.

While reiterating the request for the public to stay away from the oil he says the affects can be irritating to the skin, or people could have an allergic reaction.

Wash it off with soap and water.

Environmental advisor Leigh Stevens says Corexit is probably the most well tested dispersant in use in the world and says its toxicity is less than that of dish washing detergent.

Oil is toxic at 11ppm while Corexit 9500 is toxic at only 2.61ppm, according to one website. Corexit 9500 is four times as toxic as the oil itself. 

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9500 or 9527

Posted on 11-10-2011 21:50 | By Colleen Spiro

Was it not 9527 which was used in the GULF and banned. or are they the same???

Nick Smith said it is all ok!

Posted on 11-10-2011 21:21 | By Zara

the man who is convinced that climate change and global warming is a reality comes to the bay and tells us now there is nothing wrong with Corexit. So we can all sleep easy now. Nick Smith knows it all!

All b............t

Posted on 11-10-2011 21:05 | By Demandthetruth

Corexit is very serious. The stupid things about using dispersants is that the oil them arrives on the beach in little globules - hell of a mess. If it is not touched it arrives in big globules - easier to handle. Also corexit prevents the natural oil eating bacteria from breaking it down because it kills them & other things. If the oil does not have yhr disperants on it bacteria will start work pretty much straight away. Arabian/Persian Gulf has heaps of oil spills they leave it to nature.

one for the underwater creatures

Posted on 11-10-2011 16:16 | By waitandwatch

yes, yes, yes, we have heard all the rocket science and tell us if the creatures underwater have a story. who will speak for them? who will voice their dangers. when will man in this so called 21st century learn to stand and speak. what more do we need to open our eyes??? Happy feet cam and went, moko came and went. Have we lost the message and focused only on the messenger??? Yes a time will come when even the messenger will be shot!!!


Posted on 11-10-2011 16:12 | By gregor

this article stated that Corexit is toxic at 2.6ppm so It’s safe to say the dilution present is 0.0000001 ppm (approx) as how many million litres of ocean are there in the bay? Its probably no worse than all the diesel and oil going into the sea via exhaust every weekend by pleasure boats...


Posted on 11-10-2011 15:33 | By SCARLET PIMPINEL

That stuff is toxic, all it does is make the mess sink out of sight. End result the bacteria can not then digest the oil blobs and the toxicity of the mess then makes the environment worse not better. Just ask those in the BP Gulf of Mexico mess when they made all worse by spraying all, even then they already knew what they were doing and what the result would be, they did it anyway. The affect on people is nero based, it stuffs people up mentally and all, the chemicals roll through the food change and to us doing all sorts of damage. ALL KNOWN FOR AGES!

modern day Gasing!!!

Posted on 11-10-2011 15:17 | By beached

Well done Sunlive, thanks for shining more light on Corexit. But who is gonna convince MNZ, well lets wait until the many cancers and deaths arise in a few years time... I bet MNZ wont be held accountable. This is a modern day Gasing!!!

Lies by the score

Posted on 11-10-2011 14:33 | By Writerman

You can’t believe anything MNZ tell you. They are justy trying to cover their sorry arses. All that nonsense about the chemicals being in your shampoo simply means you should look more carefully at the brand of shampoo you are using. The last par in thsi story is the one you should keep in mind.

Oh Dear !

Posted on 11-10-2011 13:42 | By Zara

The cure is worse than the problem. So thats why they don’t want us down there.

Shifting sand

Posted on 11-10-2011 13:29 | By Shifting sand

OK, if Corexit is so safe, then how come hundreds if not thousands of people along the Louisiana Gulf Coast are still sick and dying from exposure from this substance after the Deep Water Horizon accident. Spraying the slick just makes it sink to the bottom. At least if the oil is allowed to get ashore it can be picked up and removed. If you use Corexit you’ll wipe out everything. Fish, birds and shellfish and the whole ecosystem on the seabed. Do some online research into the Gulf Coast oil spill, and see why so many lives have been destroyed because of the use of Corexit!!!

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