Environmental Impact of Oil Spills

Author: Safetech Environmental Ltd | | Categories: Oil Spills , Sustainability

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When an oil spill occurs, Safetech addresses the remediation of the incident urgently because remediation effort becomes more difficult and expensive the longer a spill is left unaddressed. Of the consequences associated with oil spills including the social, economic, and political consequences, the environmental consequence of oil spills are ultimately the main concern.

Oil spills can be caused by damaged equipment, vehicle incidents, and human folly. The spills can be big or small, in the end the impact to the environment is collective and dire. The following are examples of how oil spills can wreak the environment. 

Oil on Feathers and Fur

Oil coats a slick layer on everything it touches. Birds and mammals have special feathers and fur coats that help them thrive in their environments, however once they become covered in oil, the functioning aspects of their coats are rendered useless. 

The waterproofing and insulating ability of feathers are compromised after being coated in oil. Not to mention, feather coated oil makes it impossible for birds to fly. As for animals with fur coats. Similar to feathers, after being coated in oil, mammals are left vulnerable to hypothermia without the ability to insulate from cold water and repel water. 

Seabirds and marine mammals are the most at risk to oil coating as they live in shoreline and aquatic environments, which are ecosystems most at risk from residual oil. 

Poison to Wildlife

When ingested, oil can move up the food chain through bioaccumulation thus poisoning marine organisms. Ingestion occurs when organisms mistaken the oil for food or when organisms are frantically attempting to clean their coats covered in oil. Oil poisoning to be lethal has a different threshold of accumulation depending on the individual organism, but survivors live to demonstrate the long-term adverse effects of oil spills. 

Long-Term Damage

After exposure to oil, if the immediate effects do not kill an organism, the long-term effects could slowly kill them or be passed on to their offspring. Species are left vulnerable to extinction vortexes when the populations decrease in size because of the habitat destruction caused by residual oil. Oil has also been found to alter and impair reproduction, growth, and organ health of fish and shellfish. These consequences move up the food chain and are passed onto future generations of these organisms, magnifying the impact and spread of the adverse impacts to organisms. 

After reading this blog, if you are still not convinced the consequences to the environment from oil spills are not all that important. Think about it like this:

Humans are at the top of the food chain