Thursday, April 5, 2012

'Tar balls' from Deepwater Horizon disaster could be fatal to humans

After the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico clumps of oil called tar balls began washing up on beaches and it was thought there were harmless.

Now new research from Auburn University in Alabama has shown that tar balls are actually reservoirs for a multitude of bacteria – including one pathogen that can cause life-threatening illness.

It’s called Vibrio vulnificus, a naturally occurring bacterium that thrives in warm seawater.

Exposure to it through a wound can lead to tissue-killing, potentially fatal infections, according to lead researcher Cova Arias, who has warned that this has ‘clear public health implications’. Read More