Nalco Sets the Record Straight on Dispersant

COREXIT 9500, the only dispersant Nalco is manufacturing to help break up the oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico, is a simple blend of six well-established, safe ingredients that biodegrade, do not bioaccumulate and are commonly found in popular household products, the company said today. The COREXIT products do not contain carcinogens or reproductive toxins. All the ingredients have been extensively studied for many years and have been determined safe and effective by the EPA.

"Over the past few days, there has been substantial misunderstanding about the nature and composition of our product," said Erik Fyrwald, President and CEO of Nalco. "COREXIT has played a significant role in mitigating the disastrous consequences of the Gulf oil spill and has done so effectively and safely.

"To be clear, we have made available to government regulators all information related to the product, its ingredients and how it interacts with the environment. As always, we remain willing to work with the government in their efforts to minimize the ecological effects that the oil is having on the Gulf's precious natural resources."

Mr. Fyrwald cited recent statements by EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and Rear Admiral Mary E. Landry, who both have described the beneficial impact that dispersants have had in the Gulf. During a press conference on May 24, Administrator Jackson said the results of dispersant testing have been "positive." She added: "Our tracking indicates that the dispersants are breaking up the oil and speeding its biodegradation, with limited environmental impact at this time."

Admiral Landry added that without the timely use of dispersants, "much more" oil would have reached the shoreline from the ruptured pipe in the Gulf.

Additional technical information about COREXIT, its composition and its features follows.


  • Examples of everyday products with specific ingredients in common with COREXIT 9500 include:
    • One ingredient is used as a wetting agent in dry gelatin, beverage mixtures, and fruit juice drinks.
    • A second ingredient is used in a brand-name dry skin cream and also in a body shampoo.
    • A third ingredient is found in a popular brand of baby bath liquid.
    • A fourth ingredient is found extensively in cosmetics and is also used as a surface-active agent and emulsifier for agents used in food contact.
    • A fifth ingredient is used by a major supplier of brand name household cleaning products for "soap scum" removal.
    • A sixth ingredient is used in hand creams and lotions, odorless paints and stain blockers.


  • Data published by Environment Canada, that country's main environmental agency, in 1991 showed common household dish soap as having a substantially higher rainbow trout toxicity than COREXIT 9527. Put another way, COREXIT 9527 is more than 7 times safer than dish soap. COREXIT 9500 is the next generation of COREXIT products and features an improved formula.
  • Lisa P. Jackson, Administrator, EPA said at the May 24 press briefing,"Our tracking indicates that the dispersants are breaking up
  • the oil and speeding its biodegradation, with limited environmental impact at this time."
  • According to Ms. Jackson, "We know that dispersants are less toxic than oil. We know that surface use of dispersants decreases the risk to shorelines and organisms at the surface when they are properly applied."


  • A March, 1994, report created by France's Institut National de L'Enviroenment Industriel et des Risques indicated that COREXIT 9500 largely biodegraded in 28 days. COREXIT oil dispersant was first applied to the Gulf oil slick on April 23.


  • Based on modeling using US EPA software (as part of the EPI Suite v4.0, 2009), none of the COREXIT product components pose a risk of bioaccumulating.


  • At 840,000 gallons, the amount of dispersant in the region of the 3,850 square-mile slick represents an average concentration of about 30 parts per billion to the 10 meters of depth the dispersant will go -- even without factoring in that a substantial portion of the product has already biodegraded.
  • By comparison, the EPA allows drinking water to contain non-biodegradable contaminants -- including carcinogens and reproductive toxins -- that exceed the level of biodegradable chemicals present in COREXIT in the Gulf.


  • COREXIT is meant to be used at sea -- away from the shoreline and has been used in more than 30 countries, including Sweden, France, Australia, Norway and Canada. Aerial spraying of dispersant is not to take place within 2 miles of a boat or 3 miles of a shoreline. With 30-mile per hour winds, the maximum expected drift for the dispersant is 2,000 feet. Spraying of dispersant from boats should only be done with personal protective equipment. Mists of the dispersant will not stray far from the boat given the proximity of the spray to the surface of the water.