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17 Ways To Clean Up The Gulf Oil Spill

Photo: Getty Images

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Surface Dispersants

Chemical dispersants, which have been used throughout the oil spill, are sprayed by boats, aircraft and workers on the shore. Chemical dispersants pull apart oil particles suspended in water, reducing the oil slick to droplets that can be degraded by naturally occurring bacteria.

The major benefit of this technique is that the dispersants can be applied over a large area from specially-fit airplanes or helicopters. When the chemicals are applied, dispersed oil is significantly less toxic. However, because the chemical properties of leaked oil will change over time, dispersants may lose their ability to break apart the oil. There are also concerns about the dispersants themselves , which are also toxic, damaging the environment.

Photo: Getty Images