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Effects of chemical dispersants on feathers from Arctic seabirds

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Chemical dispersion is an oil spill response strategy where dispersants are sprayed onto the oil slick to enhance oil dispersion into the water. However, accidental application could expose seabirds to dispersants, thereby negatively affecting their plumage. To understand the possible impacts on seabirds, feathers from common eider (Somateria mollissima) and thick-billed murre (Uria lomvia) were exposed to different dosages of the dispersant Dasic Slickgone NS. For all exposure dosages the feathers increased in weight, and mostly for common eider. Analysing the feather microstructure, e.g., the Amalgamation Index, showed that larger damages were found on thick-billed murre than common eider. A no-sinking limit was established at 0.109 ml/m 2. Relating this value to desktop simulations of potential sea-surface dosages in real-life situations, and to published accounts of response operations, showed that the limit is likely to be exceeded. Thus, our results show that chemical dispersants in realistic dosages could impact seabirds.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114659
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Pages (from-to)114659
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.

    Research areas

  • Amalgamation Index, Common eider, Environmental effects, Oil spill response, Thick-billed murre

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