What are the risks of contacting oil slicks in the Northeast?

Researchers at various universities are analyzing the visible and invisible impacts of oil on the environment and public health on the northeast coast. The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation of Pernambuco (Fiocruz-PE) issued an open letter warning that an emergency should be decreed in the affected states and municipalities.

Researcher Mauro de Melo Júnior, from the Federal Rural University of Pernambuco (UFRPE), reports that he has found oil in planktonic organisms, such as copepods and crab larvae, on the coast of Tamandaré, southern coast of the state of Pernambuco. “Several individuals from these groups and others are appearing in samples with dark, oil-like stains. We are joining several of these bodies for confirmation on appropriate equipment, in partnership with other researchers from UFRPE and UFPE. In the samples of Tamandaré, we have found around 20 to 30% of individuals with spots. But it is still a preliminary result.”

Mauro de Melo explains that there is a risk that oil contaminants will be absorbed and concentrated in the food chain, in a process called bioaccumulation. “Because some of these animals have oil stains on their bodies, added to the fragmentation of oil into smaller particles, many larger animals such as fish, crustaceans, bivalve mollusks, corals and sponges can filter such particles without selecting individuals with oil ( or the oil fragments themselves). In this case they can accumulate and the consequences for our health and the health of other animals are inaccurate.”