Oil Spills and How They Affect The Environment

Oil Spills and How They Affect The Environment
Oil spills, no matter how small or large, effect the worlds environment by their destroying and poisoning any habitat they come in contact with, mainly the water though. These spills can be devastating because they disrupt what we know as the food chain. The food chain starts with producers who are ate by small animals which are ate by larger and larger animals until the top predator is reached, humans. Oddly enough, humans are the main reason the food chain is being destroyed. In our fight to reach economic prosperity we rarely take in consideration the environment, which is partially what life is based on. If one part in this chain fails they all fail. Only environmentalists and earth protectors know that oil affects anything. This is surely not the case at all. Oil spills can affect any living thing. It can kill animals and plants. Mainly seagulls, otters, seals, and whales are affect, but not in all cases.
In the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 19891 hundreds of bald eagles, which are endangered in the US, were found dead, along with seals, and the usual seagulls. Oil pollutes the water by putting chemicals into it that affect animals. There are hundreds of ships that run aground, which is the term meaning hitting the bottom of a river, ocean, seabed, etc. One of the most horrific and devastating spills happened in 1978, when the US tanker, named the Amoco Cadiz, ran aground spilling over sixty-five million gallons of oil into the water. Much of the oil sank to the ocean bed causing sedimentation, which is when the oil mixes with clay and other minerals on the seabed and causes a hard mixture that kills animals and organisms. Ships are not the only cause for oil spills though, oil plants can collapse and explode, too. In Mexico, 1979, the Ixtoc spilled an estimated 800,000 tons of oil into the water. Of this, about 10,000 caught fire. This causes smoke to pollute the air, and the ashes that were created were carried overland for hundreds of miles, killing animals and one or two humans. This is people when the air blew the ash miles away, because unknowingly drank polluted water and inhaled toxic air. About 114,000 tons of that oil started to biodegrade2, which means the petroleum of the oil break down into simpler substances. Harsh types of oil can burn eyes, burn skin, irritate or damage sensitive membranes in the nose, eyes and mouth. Hydrocarbons can trigger pneumonia if it enters lungs. Benzine, toluene and other light hydrocarbons of oil and fuels if inhaled, are transferred rapidly to the bloodstream from the lungs and can damage red blood cells, suppress immune systems, strain the liver, spleen and kidneys and even interfere with the reproductive system of animals and humans. As you can tell, there is a very serious health risk involved to humans. In general, refined petroleum products tend to be more toxic to organisms but less spread in the environment. Crude oils and heavy fuel oils like bunker fuels tend to be less toxic but are more easily spread and more likely to have physical impacts on wildlife examples would be like coating feather, fur and skin. In 1969, the United States Congress passed the National Environmental Policy Act requiring studies of the environment to be done before oil drilling or any other study that could potentially damage the environment. This act has helped the US make the world a much cleaner and safer place.3 Although we have these restrictions accidents still happen. In 2003 alone, there was 42,000 tons of oil spilled in 19 different spills. It is getting better from year to year, though. In comparison, in 195 there was around 34 spills that spills compared the previously mentioned 19 in 2003. In conclusion, I feel that more and more people are becoming educated about oil spills and their effects of the well being of animals and humans alike. They also learned that ships are not the only threats out there. It causes lots of trouble and other alternatives should be found immediately. When will everyone realize that we are guests in this world and we should treat it accordingly?

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