Between April 22 and July 15, 2010, approximately 4.9 million barrels of oil were released into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon oil well. Approximately 16% of the oil was chemically dispersed, at the surface and at 1500 m depth, using Corexit 9527 and Corexit 9500, which contain dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate (DOSS) as a major surfactant component. This was the largest documented release of oil in history at substantial depth, and the first time large quantities of dispersant (0.77 million gallons of approximately 1.9 million gallons total) were applied to a subsurface oil plume. During two cruises in late May and early June, water samples were collected at the surface and at depth for DOSS analysis. Real-time fluorimetry data was used to infer the presence of oil components to select appropriate sampling depths. Samples were stored frozen and in the dark for approximately 6 months prior to analysis by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry with isotope-dilution quantification. The blank-limited method detection limit (0.25 μg L−1) was substantially less than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA) aquatic life benchmark of 40 μg L−1. Concentrations of DOSS exceeding 200 μg L−1 were observed in one surface sample near the well site; in subsurface samples DOSS did not exceed 40 μg L−1. Although DOSS was present at high concentration in the immediate vicinity of the well where it was being continuously applied, a combination of biodegradation, photolysis, and dilution likely reduced persistence at concentrations exceeding the USEPA aquatic life benchmark beyond this immediate area.
Additional publication details
Presence of the Corexit component dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate in Gulf of Mexico waters after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill