Oil spills can have an adverse effect on animals and plants because of its hazardous chemical components. This affects life forms by internal exposure, ingestion, inhalation and external exposure through eye irritation and skin contact.
Causes of oil spill
Earth is rich with large reserves of oil and gas deep beneath its surface. From time to time, these reserves develop cracks where some of the oil or gas escape from but these are rare occurrences. More often than not, the greater damage is caused by human interferences.
An oil spill, a major form of pollution, happens on a large scale and mostly seen on bodies of water. It occurs when petroleum is released into the environment by vessel, pipeline or vehicle due to human negligence.
Oil spills kill various life forms
Birds and fish are probably the most vulnerable to oil spills but other marine mammals, like whales, dolphins, seals and sea otters, are also affected. When oil spills over a body of water, it can suffocate small fish or invertebrates. It can also coat feathers and fur in birds and mammals making them lose their ability tokeep themselves warm which often leads to hypothermia. Fortunately, there are various marine oil spill kits readily available in the market.
Types of oil spill
The environment and animals are affected differently by different types of oil that’s why it’s important to know what type of oil was spilled.
Light oils such as gasoline and diesel are volatile and evaporate relatively fast. They do not stay for long in the marine environment but they are considered to be the most toxic kind of oil. It is also flammable which adds more danger.
Bunker oils are considered heavy oils. “Heavy” oils are black and sticky. They are more persistent and can take months or even years to dissipate if not removed. They are significantly less toxic than lighter oils, but it still threatens the marine ecosystem. It can block sunlight from passing through and eventually suffocate organisms. Prolonged exposure can cause chronic health effects like tumors in some organisms. There are also various kinds of medium oils which have different levels of toxicity.
When all is said and done, the severity of damages in the environment all boils down to the type and amount of oils spilled, where it was spilled and what animals, plants, or people are affected.
If your job or company involves risks of an oil spill, do the responsible thing and have an oil spill kit ready.