Friday, February 14, 2014

Crude Oil Is a Heartbreaker

Scientists from Standford University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, have discovered that crude oil spills release a toxin that sends fish into cardiac arrest.

...crude oil interferes with fish heart cells. The toxic consequence is a slowed heart rate, reduced cardiac contractility and irregular heartbeats that can lead to cardiac arrest and sudden cardiac death.

Stanford and NOAA scientists studying the impact of crude oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill on tuna discovered that it interrupts the ability of fish heart cells to beat effectively.

...oil interferes with cardiac cell excitability, contraction and relaxation – vital processes for normal beat-to-beat contraction and pacing of the heart.
Their tests revealed that very low concentrations of crude oil disrupt the specialized ion channel pores – where molecules flow in and out of the heart cells – that control heart rate and contraction in the cardiac muscle cell.
...oil blocks the potassium channels distributed in heart cell membranes, increasing the time to restart the heart on every beat. This prolongs the normal cardiac action potential, and ultimately slows the heartbeat. The potassium ion channel impacted in the tuna is responsible for restarting the heart muscle cell contraction cycle after every beat, and is highly conserved throughout vertebrates, raising the possibility that animals as diverse as tuna, turtles and dolphins might be affected similarly by crude oil exposure. Oil also resulted in arrhythmias in some ventricular cells.
I wonder what would happen if we chucked that old leatherback, Joe Oliver, in a hot tub full of dilbit for a weekend?

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