|Oil Spill in Iloilo. Credits to Photo by Jonathan Jurilla, Typhoon Yolanda Story Hub Visayas/ Hazel Villa|
An oil spill is the release of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment, especially marine areas, due to human activity, and is a form of pollution. The term is usually applied to marine oil spills, where oil is released into the ocean or coastal waters, but spills may also occur on land. Oil spills may be due to releases of oil from tankers, offshore platforms, drilling rigs and wells, as well as spills of refined petroleum products (such as gasoline, diesel) and their by-products, heavier fuels used by large ships such as bunker fuel, or the spill of any oily refuse or waste oil.
Spilt oil penetrates into the structure of the plumage of birds and the fur of mammals, reducing its insulating ability, and making them more vulnerable to temperature fluctuations and much less buoyant in the water. Cleanup and recovery from an oil spill is difficult and depends upon many factors, including the type of oil spilled, the temperature of the water (affecting evaporation and biodegradation), and the types of shorelines and beaches involved. Spills may take weeks, months or even years to clean up.
A. Fish Kill
Caused by spills of light oils and petroleum products, such as diesel fuel, gasoline, and jet fuel into shallow water. We also have found that fish eggs in shallow water, such as salmon eggs in a streambed, can be wiped out by an oil spill. Other habitats of concern for fish kills are in contained areas, such as lakes, lagoons, and some shallow-water near shore areas, where spilled oil naturally concentrates. The type of oil and the timing of the release influence the severity of oil's effects on fish. Light oils and petroleum products can cause acute toxicity in fish, but the toxic event is generally over fairly quickly.
Large oil spills can kill fish directly by suffocation and can also destroy the surrounding environment where fish lay eggs and young fish develop. Direct exposure to crude oil causes a coagulated mucous film to cover the body and gills . Oil also disperses in water, and chemicals in the oil are absorbed by fish and can cause death. Oil disperses more quickly in warm water, and the hazards over a shorter period, but the toxicity can be more intense. Oil spills in cold water disperse more slowly, but the toxicity can last for many years. Spills in rivers and streams disperse the oil by agitation and are similarly more toxic to fish.
B. Sickness of the people.
Some components of oil called volatile organic compounds may cause respiratory irritation and nervous system disorders, according to the commentary by Gina M. Solomon, MD, MPH, and Sarah Anssen, MD, PhD, MPH, both of the University of California, San Francisco. Those at risk include fishermen, cleanup workers, volunteers, and members of communities along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, the authors write. According to the commentary, seafood, including fish and shellfish, may become contaminated by hydrocarbons from the oil. Trace amounts of cadmium, mercury, and lead in oil can accumulate in the tissues of fish over time, posing a health hazard with ingestion.
Many of the chemicals present in the oil and dispersants are known to cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, kidney damage, altered renal function, and irritation of the digestive tract. They have also caused lung damage, burning pain in the nose and throat, coughing, pulmonary edema, cancer, lack of muscle coordination, dizziness, confusion, irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat, difficulty breathing, delayed reaction time and memory difficulties. Further health problems include stomach discomfort, liver and kidney damage, unconsciousness, tiredness/lethargy, irritation of the upper respiratory tract, hematological disorders, and death. Pathways of exposure to the chemicals are inhalation, ingestion, skin, and eye contact. People's health could be adversely affected by oils either when inhaling or touching oil products, or when eating contaminated sea food.
When cleaning up oil products from the water surface or the shoreline, one must always take certain precautions. One needs to wear a face mask or filter mask be protected from inhaling vapors from oils. One also needs to use protective clothing to avoid getting in skin contact with the oil — and protective clothing means oil- and waterproof gloves and oil- and waterproof clothes that cover at least the front of one's body, as well as strong rubber boots. The same safety precautions, in principle, apply to people who risk coming into contact with lingering oil on beaches — one should always avoid touching it, and in an acute phase one should be careful not to inhale vapors from oil slicks.
C. Loss of livelihood of the fishermen
Fishermen lose their jobs for possible extended periods of time due to government bans and restrictions on fishing which could be extended for large periods of time – until the oil spill is stopped and the clean-up of all oil pollution is completed. Tens of thousands of square miles may be closed to fishing when large oil spills occurs. Fishermen lose their jobs because most of the fishes are contaminated by oil spills. The fishes are not advisable to eat because of the toxic. People in the area where oil spills occur will never eat fish and it cause the loose of fishermen jobs. Some of the boats and facilities that the fishermen are using in fishing are also damaged by oil spills. That the reason why the fishermen stop their work.
D. Destruction of Environment
Spilled oil poses serious threats to fresh water and marine environments. It affects surface resources and a wide range of subsurface organisms that are linked in a complex food chain that includes human food resources. Spilled oil can harm the environment in several ways, including the physical damages that directly impact wildlife and their habitats (such as coating birds or mammals with a layer of oil), and the toxicity of the oil itself, which can poison exposed organisms. The severity of an oil spill’s impact depends on a variety of factors, including the physical properties of the oil, whether oils are petroleum-based and non-petroleum-based, and the ultimate fate of the spilled oil.
An oil spill can harm birds and mammals by direct physical contact, toxic contamination, and destruction of food sources. One of the more difficult aspects of oil spill response is the rescue of oiled birds and mammals. When fur or feathers come into contact with oil, they get matted down. This matting causes fur and feathers to lose their insulating properties, placing animals at risk of freezing to death. As the complex structure of the feathers that allows birds to float becomes damaged, the risk of drowning increases for birds. Some species are susceptible to the toxic effects of inhaled oil. Oil vapors can cause damage to an animal's central nervous system, liver, and lungs. Animals are also at risk from ingesting oil, which can reduce the animal's ability to eat or digest its food by damaging cells in the intestinal tract. Some studies show that there can be long-term reproductive problems in animals that have been exposed to oil.
Even species that are not directly in contact with oil can be harmed by a spill. Predators that consume contaminated prey can be exposed to oil through ingestion. Because oil contamination gives fish and other animals’ unpleasant tastes and smells, predators will sometimes refuse to eat their prey and may begin to starve. Sometimes, a local population of prey organisms is destroyed, leaving no food resources for predators. Spilled oil can harm living things because its chemical constituents are poisonous. This can affect organisms both from internal exposure to oil through ingestion or inhalation and from external exposure through skin and eye irritation. Oil can also smother some small species of fish or invertebrates and coat feathers and fur, reducing birds' and mammals' ability to maintain their body temperatures. Oil Spills also affect marine plants. The oil forms a thick layer on the water surface, and this layer blocks out light and prevents gaseous exchange. When this happens, not only will the plants not be able to photosynthesize, animals underneath the affected area will find that the supply of oxygen slowly diminishes, and is unable to be continuously replenished by the environment. When plants cannot photosynthesize, they eventually die, leading to a vicious effect on the food chain, ultimately affecting all animals.
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