A team from Tulane has been tasked with developing a better oil dispersant to clean up any spills in the Gulf.
The university's been given a $1 million grant to come up with something better than what was used to clean the 2010 oil spill.
Tulane chemistry professor Scott Grayson says the stuff that was used in the BP Gulf spill has had some unfortunate effects on marine life.
"And, people involved in the cleanup have had some complaints of health problems related to it, as well."
Cleanup workers complained the stuff that was used caused them to develop heart palpitations, migraines, kidney and liver damage.
"It's clear there's some severe problems with it, between ecological issues and potential problems to human health," says Grayson.
He says his team is working on a dispersant using things that are already known to be very bio-compatible and biologically friendly.
"So, we're using things that are already approved for use in the human body as food additives."
He says that should do away with any nasty side effects.
And, he hopes they'll make something that works just as well, if not better, as far as the dispersant's properties are concerned.
Grayson is teamed with Tulane physics professor Wayne Reed and Daniel Savin, an assistant polymer science professor at the University of Southern Mississippi.
"We're just trying to take what's already known about dispersant technology, but also use what we know from the perspective of chemists and chemistry to see if we can't come up with something much better than what has been used up until now."
The project is part of a three-year grant from the BP-sponsored Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative.