A scientific study has confirmed that crude oil, which entered the Gulf of Mexico as a result of the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion, has entered the food chain.
Scientists have long worried about the health implications of oil entering the food chain and the long-term health concerns such a scenario would raise. Now their fears have been confirmed as a study published by Geophysical Research Letters, entitled "Macondo-1 well oil-derived polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in mesozooplankton from the northern Gulf of Mexico" confirms that oil has indeed entered the ocean's food chain through zooplankton.
According toScience Daily the contaminated zooplankton serve as food for small fish and shrimps, thus acting as "conduits for the movement of oil contamination and pollutants into the food chain." Dr. Michael Roman of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science said "Traces of oil in the zooplankton prove that they had contact with the oil and the likelihood that oil compounds may be working their way up the food chain."
At the time of the Deepwater spill in 2010 the immediate concerns regarding human health were concentrated on the risks involved through inhaling the chemical compounds present in the oil which can cause cancer, or from direct skin contact. Of less immediate concern but posing a long term risk was the possibility of oil entering the food chain. Business Week quoted senior scientist Dr. Gina Solomon, who confirmed a long term concern was "contamination of the food chain which can result in a long-term health concerns," a possibility now confirmed.
Contaminants in the spilled oil that could pose a health to humans through their introduction to the food chain include mercury, lead and copper.