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30
Aug
2010

Susan Shaw On How The Gulf Oil Spill Is Devastating The Deep Sea

Categories // TED Talks (Individual)

Susan notes: Thanks to TED for making TED Talks downloadable and embeddable, and for providing the biographical information that goes along with them.

susan-shaw.jpgBreak down the oil slick, keep it off the shores: that's grounds for pumping toxic dispersant into the Gulf, say clean-up overseers. Susan Shaw shows evidence it's sparing some beaches only at devastating cost to the health of the deep sea.

For two decades, Susan Shaw has investigated the effects of environmental chemicals in marine animals. She is credited as the first scientist to show that flame-retardant chemicals in consumer products have contaminated marine mammals and commercially important fish stocks in the northwest Atlantic Ocean.

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An outspoken and influential voice on ocean pollution, Shaw dove in the Gulf oil slick in May and observed first-hand how oil and dispersants are impacting life in the water column. The experience prompted her to call for a collaborative, Gulf-wide effort to track effects as the toxins ripple through the food web. She was instrumental in creating the Consensus Statement opposing further use of dispersants in the Gulf.

Shaw serves on the International Panel on Chemical Pollution, a select group of scientists urging policymakers to improve management of toxic chemicals. She travels throughout the US, Europe and Asia as a speaker on the ocean crisis and chemical pollution.

"Both types of Corexit dispersants used in the Gulf contain solvents – petroleum distillates that are animal carcinogens – capable of killing or depressing the growth of a wide range of aquatic species. For vulnerable species such as phytoplankton, corals and small fish, the combined effects of Corexit and dispersed oil can be greater and last longer than the effects of oil alone."

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