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The negative effects of oil pollution on the environment

Waste oil should always be disposed of safely as it can have a hugely negative effect on the environment.  Not only is oil insoluble, but it’s also laced with toxic chemicals and takes a very long time to degrade or evaporate.

Pollution caused by oil entering the environment doesn’t clear up quickly, it only takes the smallest quantity of oil to cause long-term effects that may take many years to recover.  Here are just some of the negative effects that oil pollution can have on the environment.

Water pollution

When waste oil finds its way into our waterways or the sea it contaminates the water and is extremely dangerous for the animals, insects, fish and birds that live there.  It takes just one pint of oil to create a slick that will cover approximately one acre of water. An oil slick will kill all of the microscopic algae and plankton that aquatic wildlife relies on, causing disruption to the entire food chain in the area.

If oil gets onto the fur or feathers of birds or animals it can be almost impossible for them to rid themselves of the substance.  Birds and animals will try to preen their feathers or wash their fur using their mouths causing them to become ill or die from ingesting the oil.

If this doesn’t kill them they could fall victim to hypothermia as oil reduces the insulating abilities of fur and feathers, making animals and birds much more vulnerable to fluctuations and decreases in the temperature.

Land pollution

Waste oil that finds its way into the land and the soil damages the environment by causing soil pollution.  Soil pollution can then damage or destroy the delicate plant life that acts as the habitat for many animals.  Oil in the soil reduces the oxygen supply to the micro-organisms that live in the soil and break the oil down into non-hazardous compounds meaning that the oil decomposes extremely slowly.

Air pollution

When oil is spilt or dumped rather than being disposed of safely some of the most toxic compounds in the oil will usually evaporate into the air.  Once airborne these toxins can be inhaled by animals causing illness or death.

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