Dispersants have been researched extensively and used for oil spill mitigation for more than 40 years, yet there are opportunities to enhance our understanding, including with respect to their long term fate and effects and how to optimize dispersant use. For example, the 2005 National Academy of Sciences report, Understanding Oil Spill Dispersants: Efficacy and Effects, suggested a number of areas where increased understanding would help support the use of dispersants. Throughout the summer of 2010 dispersants were used in unprecedented quantities and, in the case of sub-sea application, with novel application methods following the Deepwater Horizon incident. The focus of this paper is to provide a brief overview of spilled oil behavior, chemical dispersants efficacy and effectiveness, and a discussion of the state of knowledge pre-, during, and post- Deepwater Horizon.


Coastal Response Research Center

Publication Date



Coastal Response Research Center (CRRC)

Journal Title

Dispersant Initiative and Workshop “The Future of Dispersant Use in Spill Response”

Document Type

White Paper