Oil Pollution: Causes and Consequences and How to Avoid It - Summary

Help the development of the site, sharing the article with friends!

Oil is part of our daily life. Thanks to this natural resource, we obtain energy and produce a wide variety of products. However, oil exploitation causes severe impacts on the environment with short and long-term consequences. From the aforementioned, from Green Ecologist we will dedicate this article to talk about the causes of oil pollution, its consequences and how to avoid it. If you want to know everything about this problem, do not hesitate to read this article.

Examples of oil contamination

Although we are very far from affirming that oil spills are something normal and common, we can say that they happen with a certain frequency and are mainly the result of the human negligence.

Gulf of mexico

One of the largest spills in history, as an example of sea pollution due to oil, was the spill that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Due to a defect in the platform from which oil was extracted, almost 800 million liters of oil to the sea. The consequences of this devastating spill were translated into an environmental catastrophe that left thousands of animals dead and also took the lives of 11 workers.

Here you can learn more about Causes and consequences of sea pollution.

Napo and Coca rivers of Ecuador

Although the most mentioned cases of oil pollution occur at sea, there is also the contamination of rivers due to oil, as was the contamination suffered by the Napo and Coca rivers of Ecuador in 2022. As a result of a broken pipes, they were the sink for more than 57 thousand liters of oil thus unleashing a considerable socio-environmental crisis in the country.

Also read Pollution of lakes and rivers: causes, consequences and how to avoid it in this other post by Green Ecologist so that you can train more on the subject.

Vaca Muerta oil field

Continuing with the examples, we cannot ignore the soil contamination for oil. An example of this is the Argentine oil field called Vaca Muerta. In just 10 months, during 2022, they registered more than 900 oil spills, putting environmental organizations around the world on alert.

If you are interested, we recommend this article on Soil pollution: causes, consequences and solutions.

Causes of oil pollution

There are multiple examples of causes of oil pollution, but to better understand them we will divide them into two large groups that we will develop below.

Human negligence

This cause includes those oil spills that occur due to carelessness or involuntary errors of the people in charge of the oil exploitation. This also includes the breakage of equipment and pipes due to lack of maintenance, for example. Human negligence is the leading cause of environmental catastrophes caused by oil. Here you can read 7 natural disasters caused by man.

Other causes

In this category we include all those causes that have nothing to do with negligence or human inaction. Rather, we relate these causes to oil extraction procedures by themselves, to deliberate acts that may occur during wars or other wars and also to pipeline damage caused by natural disasters, among other factors.

Consequences of oil pollution

There is no doubt that oil pollutes. For this reason, we will dedicate this section to talking specifically about what damage oil causes to the environment.

Consequences of oil pollution in rivers and oceans

To begin to know what problems the oil generates in the water, we will go by parts. First of all, when the oil reaches a body of water creates a superficial film that prevents the passage of light to lower layers. This directly affects photosynthetic organisms and, consequently, the entire food chain.

Second, when animals come into contact with oil, it becomes impregnated on their surface and, due to its viscosity, prevents them from moving in the water, flying in the case of birds, and even eating. For this reason, many animals die from toxicity of oil and, furthermore, due to the fact of having been in contact with the oil, in the long term, the animals can become infertile.

Finally, rivers are a source of fresh water from which populations sustain themselves. An oil spill in a river can leave no access to drinking water to a large number of people.

Consequences of oil contamination in soils

Not only oil spills come into play here, but also everything that involves the oil exploitation such as weeding, the transfer of heavy machinery, land smoothing and other processes that are carried out to obtain oil. As a result, microbiological, physical and chemical properties soil are deeply affected.

Consequences of oil pollution in the air

One of the main consequences of oil refineries is based on the large amounts of greenhouse gases that emit into the atmosphere. These gases, as we well know, are the cause of current climate change. Here you can learn more about How to reduce greenhouse gases.

We recommend this other Green Ecologist article on the environmental impact of oil and natural gas so that you know more about the subject.

Image: Tendenzias

How to avoid oil pollution

Without going into technicalities, there are three basic points to avoid contamination from the oil industry:

  • Maintain the good condition and correct operation of equipment and pipes.
  • Automate as many processes as possible, in order to avoid human errors.
  • Allocate funds to the investigation of bioremediation processes.

These three points are typical of the oil industries. However, as citizens who consume goods and services produced from oil, there are not many actions to directly avoid oil pollution. Even so, governments can promote and develop regulation and audit of this type of industry to avoid future disasters. They can also carry out the development and inclusion of clean energies such as solar, wind and hydropower, for example. In this way, we will not only avoid oil contamination, but also we will mitigate the effects of climate change. If you want to know more about what are clean or green energies, do not hesitate to read this article by Ecologist Verde that we recommend.

If you want to read more articles similar to Oil pollution: causes, consequences and how to avoid it, we recommend that you enter our Pollution category.

  • Drafting PAGE12. (2022). The Vaca Muerta spills. PAGE 12. Available at: https://www.pagina12.com.ar/156412-los-derrames-de-vaca-muerta
  • Gómez Muñoz, J. (2022). Ten years have passed since the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and the damage persists. Frace24. Available at: https://www.france24.com/es/20200421-golfo-mexico-derrame-deepwater-horizon-diez-anos
  • Tapia, A. (2022). The oil spill and the triple pandemic that plagues the Ecuadorian Amazon. The country. Available at: https://elpais.com/planeta-futuro/2021-04-08/el-vertido-de-petroleo-y-la-triple-pandemia-que-azota-la-amazonia-ecuatoriana.html
You will help the development of the site, sharing the page with your friends
This page in other languages: