KINGSTON, R.I. (WPRI) - A professor at the University ofRhode Island (URI) says the cleaning chemicals floating aroundthe Gulf are highly toxic and very concerning.
Bongsup Cho is a professor at the URI pharmacydepartment.
He said, "My research focuses on the effect of these chemicalson DNA and how they initiate cancers. These are the same kinds ofcompounds you find in cigarette smoke."
Cho said most of the chemicals from the oil evaporate quicklylike methane. What remains from the oil after that evaporation arechemicals containing benzene.
It's a known fact that benzene and its various forms causecancer. But, what is not known is what happens to the chemicals inthis environment.
"The water temp is hot, then sun is hot. All of this evaporationand photo-reaction with sunlight. We don't know what happens tothose and the impacts on our health."
Cho said the burning of the oil makes the chemicals more toxic.He's also concerned about the dispersants being used. The chemicalmakeup of those dispersants is kept secret for proprietaryreasons.
The effect of all these chemicals on animals and people likelywon't be good. Cho said, once these chemicals get into cells, theyreact with DNA and mutate it.
"If you don't remove those, where will they go? They'll go intothe food chain."
Cho fears shrimp, oysters and fish from the region will havetheir DNA altered.
"And so I’m thinking there'll be long termconsequences."
Professor Cho believes that skimmers should be used and notchemicals.
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