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A study was conducted to assess the effect of dispersants on the incorporation of volatile liquid hydrocarbons (C5-C14) into the water column from surface oil slicks. A laboratory tank was used to vary a number of parameters including oil type, dispersant type, time of dispersant application, wind speed, and temperature. Water samples removed from an underwater sampling port indicated that the light aromatics (e.g., benzene to xylene) were the dominant compounds introduced into the water from dispersed oil. At lower temperatures a decreased amount of volatile liquid hydrocarbons (VLH) was incorporated into the water column because of the lower solubility. Wind speed had little effect on the amount of VLH incorporated into the water column within the experimental design. The chemical and physical properties of the oil exerted important influences on the type and concentration of VLH detected in the water column. The more viscous the oil, the less the dissolution of VLH. Immediate application of dispersant introduced the greatest amount of VLH into the water column. If the oil was weathered for 24 h only small amounts of VLH were incorporated into the water column. A comparison of dispersants Corexit® 9527 and 7664 indicated that 9527 was most effective in accelerating VLH incorporation into the water column.
dispersant, oil spill, volatile liquid hydrocarbons, oil, environmental simulation, temperature, wind speed