Toxic benzene remained in Gulf, only small portion escaped into atmosphere: NOAA

Boulder researchers study fate of oil in Gulf spill, Daily Camera, March 14, 2011:

Emphasis Added

The results of the scientific mission — led by researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — have been accepted for publication by the journal Geophysical Research Letters. …

Researchers already knew the relative chemical makeup of the reservoir tapped by the Macondo well, which includes a variety of hydrocarbons such as methane, benzene and ethane.

So when the instruments on board the plane failed to measure any concentrations of methane in the atmosphere, for example, researchers could conclude that the methane must have dissolved entirely in the water column before reaching the surface.

Scientists also learned that only small portions of the benzene, a known carcinogen, and ethane in the oil mixture escaped into the atmosphere, meaning those compounds were also largely dissolved into the Gulf.

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