Offering a scientific perspective, this paper provides a rationale for the use of dispersants in oil spill remediation by discussing their formulations and modes of action and connecting their physics and chemistry to a their environmental fates and impacts. With the first use of dispersants at the source of the oil release during the Deepwater Horizon incident, there is a new great need for understanding the efficiency and the environmental impacts of their use. The paper concludes with some cautionary recommendations on dispersant research.
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