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A new study conducted by two researchers from Florida State University and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology has found that the oil dispersants used following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 may be causing oil to remain deposited in Gulf of Mexico beaches.

The researchers found that while oil dispersants quickly dissipated oil during the spill — the largest marine oil spill in history — the same chemicals may be causing oil to remain deposited deep in Gulf of Mexico beaches.  The study noted that oil mixed with dispersants more easily enters sandy sediment, where it can penetrate deeper and last longer than untreated oil.

The researchers tested the ability of oil to penetrate into sand with and without dispersants, with the help of an Agilent gas chromatograph coupled to a mass spectrometer.

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