The Coalition to Ban Toxic Dispersants is an ad hoc group of people from all over the United States who are working together to protect human health first during oil spill response. The Coalition is a response to the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, during which the federal government allowed BP to poison the Gulf of Mexico with over two million gallons of toxic Corexit dispersants. BP and the government claimed this was a “clean up,” however, dispersants act on oil to move it into the water and air, making it impossible to contain and remove oil from the water.

Besides making cleanup impossible, the combination of oil and dispersants is more toxic than oil alone. This is true for both humans and sea life. Dispersants are petroleum distillates or industrial solvents. The properties that facilitate the movement of solvents through oil also make it easier for them to move through skin and into bodies. In effect, solvents act like an oil delivery system into the body.

During the summer of 2010, Gulf Coast residents, visitors, and wildlife became ill with symptoms common to exposure to crude oil and solvents. The symptoms for chemical illnesses mimic normal illnesses like colds or flu, vertigo, nausea, and more, but untreated symptoms can persist for years–or life.

Gulf Coast residents began calling for the EPA to ban dispersants in oil spill response in summer 2010. In 2012, the Coalition filed a formal petition with EPA, demanding that EPA remove all products containing toxic or “secret” ingredients, such as solvents and dispersants, from use during oil spill response. In addition, the Coalition is active in a growing number of EPA regions, working to ban use of toxic dispersants and solvents in regional response plans for marine and fresh waters.

Action Items

  • sign the on-line petition [link]
  • share the on-line petition with your friends
  • contact us to get involved in your region [link]


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