Oil & Contaminant Research

Evaluating the Efficacy of Sixteen Surfactants for Removing Petrochemicals from Feathers
The Effects of Oil on Wildlife (EOW) Conference, which we presented with Oiled Wildlife Care Network U.C. Davis and the National Aquarium in May 2018, featured a lot of fascinating research and case studies to help professionals in the field of oiled wildlife response. Wildlife veterinarian and long-time Tri-Stater, Dr. Erica Miller, recently conducted our latest round of testing to find the best products to clean oiled wildlife, and she presented the findings from that study at EOW. While there is still a lot of research to be done, the findings show that there may be a new contender for cleaning wildlife safely and effectively, a Palmolive product! This is exciting news and one of the reasons we continue to conduct this study periodically as new products come on the market and formulations change.  Abstract

Dr. Erica Miller EOW

Pascagoula Pelicans
Tri-State staff and volunteers have been occasionally monitoring pelicans that were rehabilitated and released following the 1995 spill in Pascagoula, MS. The objective is to determine post-release survivability of birds rehabilitated in an oil spill. Visits to the release site were made in April 1997, October 1998, and March 1999. “Our banded birds were seen on all 3 visits.”

In conjunction with this field study, an extensive literature review was compiled on band returns and post-release survival of oiled birds. This study was funded in part through a grant from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.

This two-part study was funded through a grant from Florida Power & Light. The first part consisted of trials to find a product and/or process of removing Orimulsion from feathers. D-Limonene was the one product Tri-State found to remove the Orimulsion. The second part consisted of an extensive literature review of the potential toxic effects of D-Limonene.

D-Limonene Study I
This was a project conducted by Tri-State, New Bolton Center and Beth-Ann Shane (student at UPENN vet school) in 1997. The objective was to determine if D-Limonene is absorbed systemically, and if any clinical and/or pathologic changes occur, when the substance is used as a pre-treatment agent (i.e., applied only to feathers and only to tactile substances, for brief periods of time, and removed using standard wash protocols). Results: histopathology revealed changes in the skin of the chickens tested.

D-Limonene Study II
This was a project conducted by TSBR, New Bolten Center and Patricia Alexander (student at UPENN vet school) in 1998. Objective was to determine whether D-limonene and mineral oil have adverse effects on feather integrity when used as pretreatment for removing heavy or bituminous petroleum products, like Orimulsion, from oiled feathers.

Cleaning Agents
This was a co-operative study between Tri-State and DuPont Corporation (Experimental Station) in 2000, to determine the most effective agent for removing oil from feathers. Over 100 products were tested, and “Original Dawn Dishwashing Detergent was the most effective of these products. Results were presented at the EOW conference and will be published in the conference proceedings.

Tactile Substances
This project was conducted by Lynne Frink and Erica Miller in 1997. The objective was to study the effects of tactile substances (Tanglefoot and others) on feathers, and to develop a safe and effective procedure for removing these substances. Canola oil was found to be the most effective agent to remove the substances. Results were published in the NWRA Quarterly newsletter.

Band Return Study
Tri-State is conducting an on-going study of the release of banded, rehabilitated wild birds and has collected data on band return rates since 1990. Nearly all oiled birds have been banded prior to release, and varying numbers of non-oiled, rehabilitated birds of a number of species have been banded each year. Data on band returns of oiled birds from 1990-2001 has been compiled and portions of the results have been published in the NWRA Wildlife Rehabilitation Bulletin.

Effects of Oil on Seabirds
Following the oil spill in Buzzard’s Bay, Massachusetts in April 2003, Tri-State veterinarians worked with veterinarians from the Wildlife Clinic at Tufts University and the EPA to try to learn more about the effects of this oil on seabirds. Blood samples from the live birds and necropsies on deceased birds have revealed some initial information; further diagnostics are pending funding. Data from this research is being shared with the SEANET project.

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