Nov. 1, 2010 04:54 PM

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, has developed a test they are now using to detect trace levels of chemicals - from dispersants used in the Deepwater Horizon-BP oil spill  - in fish, oysters, crab and shrimp in the Gulf.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, has developed a test they are now using to detect trace levels of chemicals - from dispersants used in the Deepwater Horizon-BP oil spill - in fish, oysters, crab and shrimp in the Gulf. So far, the results are encouraging. From the more than 1,500 tissue samples collected from across reopened Gulf waters, few showed any trace chemical residue, and those that did were well below harmful levels, according to NOAA.
Experts trained in a rigorous sensory analysis process have been testing Gulf seafood for the presence of contaminants, and every seafood sample from reopened waters has passed sensory testing for contamination with oil and dispersant. Nonetheless, to ensure consumers have total confidence in the safety of seafood being harvested from the Gulf, NOAA and FDA have added this second test for dispersant when considering reopening Gulf waters to fishing. Using this new, second test, in the Gulf scientists have tested 1,735 tissue samples including more than half of those collected to reopen Gulf of Mexico federal waters. Only a few showed trace amounts of dispersants residue (13 of the 1,735) and they were well below the safety threshold of 100 parts per million for finfish and 500 parts per million for shrimp, crabs and oysters. As such, they do not pose a threat to human health. The new test detects dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate, known as DOSS, a major component of the dispersants used in the Gulf. DOSS is also approved by FDA for use in various household products and over-the-counter medication at very low levels. The best scientific data to date indicates that DOSS does not build up in fish tissues. "The rigorous testing we have done from the very beginning gives us confidence in the safety of seafood being brought to market from the Gulf," said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary for commerce and NOAA administrator. "This test adds another layer of information, reinforcing our findings to date that seafood from the Gulf remains safe." "This new test should help strengthen consumer confidence in Gulf seafood," said Margaret A. Hamburg, Ph.D., commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. "The overwhelming majority of the seafood tested shows no detectable residue, and not one of the samples shows a residue level that would be harmful for humans. There is no question Gulf seafood coming to market is safe from oil or dispersant residue."

Read the full news release here.