Crude oil dispersants MSDS & hazards:
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In an unprecedented quantity of at least 700,000 gallons, Corexit® dispersants, produced by Nalco Energy Services, for example, were sprayed on the water surface or pumped below the surface in the 2010 oil leak catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control,
Oil spill dispersants break an oil slick into small drops. For most people, brief contact with a small amount of oil spill dispersants will do no harm. However, longer contact can cause a rash and dry skin. Dispersants can also irritate your eyes. Breathing or swallowing dispersants can also cause health effects.
But dispersants themselves are toxic and though diluted by the water into which they are sprayed, may have long term effects on the environment. Although Corexit® product MSDSs include both 2-butoxyethanol and 38% 2-butoxyethanol, (both toxic chemicals) according to the New York Times ("Worry About Dispersant Rises as Men in Work Crew Complain of Health Problems", 28 May 2010), Nalco, the company that produces a series of Corexit dispersant products, has declined to disclose its proprietary chemical formula for these products that incude Corexit 9500, Corexit 9527, and Corexit 9580.
On 20 May 2010, also according to the Times, the U.S. EPA, citing the lack of knowledge of the chemical's impact, directed BP (British Petroleum) to use a less toxic dispersant spray on the Gulf oil spill. At that time the 700,000 gallon Corexit dispersant spray figure was also quoted, making this the largest use ever of chemical dispersants on an oil spill. This article quotes BP spokesman Toby Odone:
“Corexit was an E.P.A.-approved dispersant that had been widely used in the gulf and was available in the quantities we required”
On 20 August 2013, in a key update on possible longer term environmental effects of the use of oil dispersants, in particular Corexit, the New York Times reported that a much greater quantity of Corexit, nearly two million gallons, had been sprayed on the water surface or injected into the oil plume near the leaking oil well head in the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion.
The Times 2013 article, reported by Henry Fountain, elaborated wide discrepancies in the level of oil-spill-related contaminants found in the Gulf of Mexico when comparing earlier tests and more recent tests for oil components in water tested as much as 300 miles from the oil well site and near Galveston, Texas as wel as in the opposite direction in the Florida Keys.
Possible sources of sampling errors in the original testing in the Gulf cited by the Times article included: 
The Times 2013 article notes that the recent study of oil contaminants in the Gulf of Mexico found
"... higher levels of many oil-related compounds than earliler studies by NOAA scientists and others, particularly in seawater and sediment. The compounds studied included polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, some of which are classified as probably carcinogenic, and volatile organic compounds, which can affect the immune and nervous systems." 
According to a Nalco competitor, U.S. Polychemical who makes a competing dispersant Dispersit SPC 1000® that is water-based rather than oil-based,
"Corexit 9500 can cause central nervous system depression, nausea, and unconsciousness. It can cause liver, kidney damage, and red blood cell hemolysis with repeated or prolonged exposure through inhalation or ingestion according to the MSDS. The threat to human health via exposure is characterized a MODERATE".
BP stated that it continues to believe Corexit EC9500A is best alternative dispersant to use in the Gulf oil spill, indicating that
... this one doesn’t contain chemicals that degrade to nonylphenol (NP). Manufacturer indicates COREXIT reaches maximum biodegradation within 28 days of application. It doesn’t persist in the environment. These features make it a better choice for subsea application based on current information. COREXIT has fewer long-term effects than other dispersants.
According to the BP letter published below, five products on NCP product schedule met the EPA criteria in May 19th directive.
The May 20 2010 Times article reported that Canadian oil spill expert Merv Fingas considers Corexit not much more toxic than other dispersants that have been in use for a long time. [OPINION: simply equating them to one another, such a comparison does not address the absolute actual toxicity of any or all of those products and thus is little more than a red herring.]
A separate and important question remains about the actual effectiveness of dispersants in the Gulf oil spill where very large quantities of oil have been spilled a mile below the surface of the water. By the time that oil reaches the surface it has been emulsified (formed an emulsion mix with water) so that dispersants are not effective.
In addition to the MSDS links for Corexit products shown here, we have edited the Complete US EPA Table of Crude Oil Dispersants to add links to individual crude oil dispersant product MSDS in the original US EPA Dispersant list.
"May 19, 2010 Addendum 2 to Dispersant Monitoring and Assessment Directive ("Addendum 2")", to Rear Admiral Mary Landry, Commander, Eighth Cost Guard District, New Orleans LA, and Samuel Coleman, P.E., Director, Superfund Division, Dallas TX, from Douglas J. Suggles, B.P. - letter, PDF (U.S. EPA) discusses a comparison of available oil dispersants and the company's basis for choosing Corexit as the dispersant of choice in the circumstances of the Gulf Oil Spill. The letter makes plain that the need for a quick response combined with the availability of Corexit for that choice.
(LC50 values in ppm)
|DISPERSIT SPC 1000™||7.90||8.20||40.00||100.00||73.00|
|FINASOL OSR 52||5.40||2.37||32.50||71.60||52.10|
|JD-2000™ [Also see Globemark Test Results]||3.59||2.19||60.40||77.80||69.10|
|MARE CLEAN 200 (possibly found at http://www.birkocorp.com/Products.html)||42.00||9.84||63.97||84.14||74.06|
|NOKOMIS 3-AA [Data Sheet]||34.22||20.16||63.20||65.70||64.50|
|NOKOMIS 3-F4 [Data Sheet]||100||58.40||62.20||64.90||63.55|
|SAF-RON GOLD [EPA letter]||9.25||3.04||84.80||53.80||69.30|
|SEA BRAT #4||23.00||18.00||53.55||60.65||57.10|
|SEACARE ECOSPERSE 52 (see FINASOL® OSR 52)||5.40||2.37||32.50||71.60||52.10|
|SEACARE E.P.A. (see DISPERSIT SPC 1000™)||7.90||8.20||40.00||100.00||73.00|
|SF-GOLD DISPERSANT (see SAF-RON GOLD)||9.25||3.04||84.80||53.80||69.30|
|ZI-400 [aircraft cleaner]||8.35||1.77||50.10||89.80||69.90|
|ZI-400 OIL SPILL DISPERSANT (see ZI-400)||8.35||1.77||50.10||89.80||69.90|
The MSDS for Corexit 9527, a dispersant developed by Nalco Energy Services in the 1980s, and widely used in the Gulf, includes 2-butoxyethanol and 38% 2-butoxyethanol. A question remains about whether the proprietary formula also includes ethylene oxide (a carcinogen), reported by valdezlink.com to have been in a 1989 version.
EXXON CHEMICAL AMERICAS DIV EX -- COREXIT 9527 ======================================================= MSDS Safety Information ======================================================= FSC: 6850 MSDS Date: 06/14/1992 MSDS Num: BRYBG LIIN: 00F030320 Product ID: COREXIT 9527 MFN: 01 Responsible Party Cage: 72190 Name: EXXON CHEMICAL AMERICAS DIV EXXON CORP Box: 3272 City: HOUSTON TX 77001 Info Phone Number: 713-870-6000 Emergency Phone Number: 713-870-6000 Review Ind: Y Published: Y ======================================================= Preparer Co. when other than Responsible Party Co. ======================================================= Cage: 72190 Name: EXXONMOBIL CHEMICAL CO, DIV OF EXXON MOBILCORP. Address: 13501 KATY FWY Box: 3272 City: HOUSTON TX 77253-3272 ======================================================= Contractor Summary ======================================================= Cage: 72190 Name: EXXONMOBIL CHEMICAL CO, DIV OF EXXON MOBILCORP. Address: 13501 KATY FWY Box: 3272 City: HOUSTON TX 77253-3272 Phone: 281-870-6000 / 800-726-2015 ======================================================= Ingredients ======================================================= Cas: 111-76-2 RTECS #: KJ8575000 Name: 2-BUTOXYETHANOL (ETHYLENEGLYCOL MONOBUTYL ETHER), BUTYL CELLOSOLVE, BUTYL GLYCOL, GLYCOL ETHER EB % Wt: 38 Other REC Limits: 25 PPM (SKIN) OSHA PEL: S, 50 PPM ACGIH TLV: S, 25 PPM; 9293 ======================================================= Health Hazards Data ======================================================= Route Of Entry Inds - Inhalation: YES Skin: YES Ingestion: YES Carcinogenicity Inds - NTP: NO IARC: NO OSHA: NO Effects of Exposure: EYES: IRRITATING, MAY INJURE TISSUE IF NOT REMOVED PROMPTLY. SKIN: IRRITATING. ABSORPTION MAY CAUSE HEMOLYTIC ANEMIA & KIDNEY DAMAGE EVIDENCED BY PALENESS & RED COLORATION OF URINE. INHALATION: RESPIR ATORY TRACT IRRITATION. SYSTEMIC EFFECTS. INGESTION: LOW TOXICITY. INHALATION/SKIN OVEREXPOSURE: BLOOD/KIDNEY DAMAGE. Explanation Of Carcinogenicity: NONE First Aid: EYES: FLUSH W/PLENTY OF WATER FOR AT LEAST 15 MINS. SKIN: FLUSH W/PLENTY OF WATER. USE SOAP IF AVAILABLE. REMOVE CONTAMINATED CLOTHING, INCLUDING SHOES, AFTER FLUSHING HAS BEGUN. INHALATION: REMOVE TO FRESH AIR. ADMINISTER ARTIFICIAL RESPIRATION IF BREATHING IS STOPPED. KEEP AT REST. INGESTION: INDUCE VOMITING. DON'T ATTEMPT TO GIVE ANYTHING BY MOUTH TO AN UNCONSCIOUS PERSON. OBTAIN MED ATTN. ======================================================= Handling and Disposal ======================================================= Spill Release Procedures: ELIMINATE IGNITION SOURCES. SMALL/LARGE SPILL: IMPLEMENT CLEANUP PROCECURES. FOR LARGE IF IN PUBLIC AREA, EVACUATE AREA. CONTAIN LIQUID W/SAND/EARTH. DON'T USE COMBUSTIBLES. RECOVER BY PUMPING (EXPLOS ION PROOF/HAND PUMP) OR W/A SUITABLE ABSORBENT. Waste Disposal Methods: DISPOSE OF IN ACCORDANCE W/LOCAL, STATE, & FEDERAL REGULATIONS. PREVENT LIQUID FROM ENTERING SEWERS, WATERCOURSES OR LOW AREAS. COMPLETELY DRAIN, PROPERLY BUNG & PROMPTLY RETURN EMPTY DRUMS TO A DRUM RECONDITIONER OR PROPERLY DISPOSED OF. NA 1993 Other Precautions: EMPTY CONTAINERS RETAIN RESIDUE & CAN BE DANGEROUS. DON'T PRESSURIZE/CUT/WELD/BRAZE/SOLDER/DRILL/GRIND/EXPOSE SUCH CONTAINERS TO HEAT/FLAME/SPARKS/ELECRICITY/OTHER IGNITION SOURCES; THEY MAY EXPLODE & CAUSE INJURY OR DEATH. ======================================================= Fire and Explosion Hazard Information ======================================================= Flash Point Method: TCC Flash Point Text: 163F Lower Limits: 1.1% Upper Limits: 10.6% Extinguishing Media: ALCOHOL TYPE FOAM, DRY CHEMICAL OR WATER SPRAY Fire Fighting Procedures: USE WATER SPRAY TO COOL FIRE EXPOSED SURFACES & TO PROTECT PERSONNEL. ISOLATE FUEL SUPPLY FROM FIRE. AVOID SPRAYING WATER DIRECTLY INTO STORAGE CONTAINERS. Unusual Fire/Explosion Hazard: COMBUSTIBLE LIQUID, CAN FORM COMBUSTIBLE MIXTURES AT TEMPS AT OR ABOVE THE FLASHPOINT. ======================================================= Control Measures ======================================================= Respiratory Protection: IF THE TLV HAS BEEN EXCEEDED, USE A NIOSH/MSHA APPROVED RESPIRATOR. Ventilation: LOCAL EXHAUST. STORE & HANDLE LABORATORY SAMPLES IN A LAB HOOD. PROVIDE MECHANICAL VENTILATION IN CONFINED AREAS. Protective Gloves: CHEMICAL RESISTANT Eye Protection: CHEMICAL SAFETY GOGGLES W/FACE SHIELD Other Protective Equipment: CHEMICAL SUIT, RUBBER BOOTS, LONG SLEEVE CLOTHING. ======================================================= Physical/Chemical Properties ======================================================= B.P. Text: 340F M.P/F.P Text: -45F Vapor Pres: 5 Spec Gravity: 1 Evaporation Rate & Reference: (N-BU AC = 1): 0.1 Solubility in Water: COMPLETE Appearance and Odor: AMBER LIQUID W/GLYCOL ETHER ODOR. ======================================================= Reactivity Data ======================================================= Stability Indicator: YES Stability Condition To Avoid: HEAT, FLAME, SPARKS, STATIC ELECTRICITY OR OTHER SOURCES OF IGNITION. Materials To Avoid: STRONG OXIDIZING AGENTS Hazardous Decomposition Products: SMOKE FUMES, CO, CO2 Hazardous Polymerization Indicator: NO ======================================================= Toxicological Information ======================================================= ======================================================= Ecological Information ======================================================= ======================================================= MSDS Transport Information ======================================================= ======================================================= Regulatory Information ======================================================= ======================================================= Other Information ======================================================= ======================================================= HAZCOM Label ======================================================= Product ID: COREXIT 9527 Cage: 72190 Company Name: EXXONMOBIL CHEMICAL CO, DIV OF EXXON MOBILCORP. Street: 13501 KATY FWY PO Box: 3272 City: HOUSTON TX Zipcode: 77253-3272 Health Emergency Phone: 713-870-6000 Label Required IND: Y Date Of Label Review: 09/30/1993 Status Code: C Label Date: 09/30/1993 Origination Code: F Chronic Hazard IND: Y Eye Protection IND: YES Skin Protection IND: YES Signal Word: DANGER Respiratory Protection IND: YES Health Hazard: Severe Contact Hazard: Severe Fire Hazard: Moderate Reactivity Hazard: Slight Hazard And Precautions: EYES: IRRITATING, MAY INJURE TISSUE IF NOT REMOVED PROMPTLY. SKIN: IRRITATING. ABSORPTION MAY CAUSE HEMOLYTIC ANEMIA & KIDNEY DAMAGE EVIDENCED BY PALENESS & RED COLORATION OF URINE. INHALATION: RESPIR ATORY TRACT IRRITATION. SYSTEMIC EFFECTS. INGESTION: LOW TOXICITY. INHALATION/SKIN OVEREXPOSURE: BLOOD/KIDNEY DAMAGE. TARGET ORGANS: EYES, SKIN, KIDNEYS, RESPIRATORY TRACT, BLOOD. T ARGET ORGANS: EYES, SKIN, LIVER, KIDNEYS, RESPIRATORY & DIGESTIVE TRACTS, HEART. ======================================================= Disclaimer (provided with this information by the compiling agencies): This information is formulated for use by elements of the Department of Defense. The United States of America in no manner whatsoever expressly or implied warrants, states, or intends said information to have any application, use or viability by or to any person or persons outside the Department of Defense nor any person or persons contracting with any instrumentality of the United States of America and disclaims all liability for such use. Any person utilizing this instruction who is not a military or civilian employee of the United States of America should seek competent professional advice to verify and assume responsibility for the suitability of this information to their particular situation regardless of similarity to a corresponding Department of Defense or other government situation.
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Polychem Dispersit SPC 1000 is an EPA reviewed, NCP listed water based dispersant to be used on oil discharges or oil spills in accordance with the procedures set forth by the U.S. Coast Guard and other governmental agencies. Polychem Dispersit SPC 1000 has been included in the NCP Product Schedule for use as a dispersant for oil spills.
Polychem Dispersit SPC 1000 is a unique aqueous composition with highly effective emulsifiers, dispersants and a water-soluble coupling solvent. Polychem Dispersit SPC 1000 contains no petroleum solvents. Independent testing (J L Ross Env. Ltd.) confirmed that Dispersit has significant effectiveness in fresh and brackish water. Dispersit is particularly well suited for application via a vessel based education system because it maintains effectiveness when diluted with water unlike petroleum based products.
Polychem Dispersit SPC 1000 has an overall effectiveness† of 73%, almost 50% better than the EPA requirement and the dominant product and has considerably less aquatic toxicity†† than the dominant petroleum based dispersant. Polychem Dispersit SPC 1000 contains no hazardous material and hence is user-friendly and environmentally safe.
U.S. Polychemical description of their product, Dispersit, includes an assessment of comparative health risks of water-based vesus oil-based oil dispersants: see http://www.uspoly.com/dispersit.html