Nano in the Gulf oil spill: Two wrongs don’t make a right
A corporation has asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to approve one of their products containing manufactured nanoparticles for oil clean-up in the Gulf of Mexico. We sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson demanding this risky experiment not be allowed, citing the many health concerns posed by manufactured nanoparticles. The letter was signed by 17 public-interest organizations from the U.S., Canada, and South America. (See an excellent article about our letter in AOL News.)
Manufactured nanomaterials have unique properties due to the laws of quantum physics. Many of them are known to be toxic for reasons that regulators and scientists do not fully understand. What we do know is that various manufactured nanomaterials have already been shown to cause severe harm to aquatic life. They’ve also exhibited complex toxicity when they interact with the human body. Additionally, manufactured nanomaterials can quickly bond to other toxic chemicals, which increases the overall toxicity.
There are plenty of ways to fight this oil spill – with booms, skimming, and other techniques. These approaches are better than dumping toxic particles into the water, especially considering we do not even know the full nature of these nanoparticles. This information is considered a trade secret by the company. Confidential business information should never trump public health concerns. The motives of global business and our economies should be of service to public health and the health of our planet. Businesses should not be solely motivated to make a profit through secrecy, which inherently puts our well-being at risk.
The oil spill that took place in the Gulf of Mexico is a tragedy shared by everyone on this planet. If we allow BP to dump even more toxins into the already battered Gulf of Mexico, what would it say about us? For-profit companies should not be allowed to compromise our and the planet’s well-being just so they can boost their bottom lines.