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Ultraviolet Light Aids in Gulf Coast Oil Cleanup

Ultraviolet light - glowing ghost - crabLaw enforcement officials and crime scene investigators use ultraviolet light to spot tiny droplets of blood that otherwise would be difficult if not impossible to see. Blood glows brightly under UV light making it possible to see even minuscule droplets that have been misted over a surface. In much the same way UV light can be used to help cleanup crews see oil that has washed up on beaches from the BP disaster.

“The first time I took the UV flashlight out on the beach to see if it would work, it was beyond my wildest dreams,” said Rip Kirby, a graduate student at the University of South Florida.

UV lights enable people to easily see areas of the beach and tidal zones where oil has mixed with  sand and mud to an extent that makes it nearly invisible to the naked eye during the day. At night even the tinniest oil particles glow bright orange.

Learn more at National Geographic.

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