Effects of Oil Spill

Written by: Prof. Richard.
Updated: Dec 22, 2022
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Oil spills have physical, mental, and social effects on living beings and environmental and economic effects. Although light oils such as gasoline and diesel evaporate quickly, they have toxic effects. Still, when heavy oils like bunker oils are spilled in an area, their chemical component stays attached to that area for an extended period affecting the life cycle of inhabitants. (4) Most seabirds have been affected due to the oil sticking to their feathers which destroys their waterproofing and insulation, causing hypothermia.

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The heavy oil on their feather makes it difficult for them to fly. Hence, they end up dying due to the inability to use their wings and gather food. Consumption of the spilled oil by marine animals causes toxins in their bodies and sometimes passes on to their predators. (8) According to a study carried out to determine the possible genotoxic effects on people or animals who consume marine food containing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), which comes from oil spills. (8) After the Erika oil spill, where the tanker sank on the coast of France in 1999, Mussels affected by the oil spill were fed to rats daily over 2 and 4 weeks. An increase in DNA damage (P<0.001) in the liver and the bone marrow was significant. However, there was no proof of genotoxicity in the blood samples, which proved that the oil spill significantly affected the health of seafood consumers. (4) Health problems such as respiratory diseases, eye irritation, immune-toxic effects, et cetera increased among the people surrounding the area of the oil spill. People living around the areas of major oil spills were reported to have significant psychological disorders. As per the community survey conducted among 599 men and women around a year after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, 20.2% and 9.4% were found to have generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD). (4) It was also observed that women were more vulnerable to these disorders than men during the oil spill and cleanup process. People from specific cultural backgrounds, such as the indigenous group, had more effect than the Euro-Americans, which showed that culture also played an essential role in the presence or absence of disorders. (8)

Vegetation is also highly affected by the oil spill as it blocks the photosynthesis process by coating the leaves and preventing the absorption of sunlight. (5) It also degrades the quantity and quality of minerals and nutrients found in plants and makes them poisonous. Such situations decrease the supply of vegetation and result in a price hike in the market. This difference in prices directly or indirectly affects the social capital as well as creates conflict in society as there are competition and struggle for food and survival. (5) The economy of a place that depends mainly on its water resources can be highly affected by the oil spill. Exports of seafood, industries, and tourism play a significant role in economic advancement. Still, the release of toxic substances into water contaminates the varieties of seafood and makes it non-edible for humans. (6) Many industries rely on water for sanitation, processing, cooling, and transportation purposes, but oil mixed with water contaminates the entire system. The oil spill also pollutes the beaches and other public attraction spots and restricts activities such as boating, surfing, diving, et cetera. Tourists hesitate to visit such places due to their toxic environment. The hotel bookings in the tourism industry around Texas and Florida region went down by 20.2% during the first month after the BP oil spill, which impacted the economy. (6) People started losing jobs, and their properties were damaged, which directly affected the labor market and income.    

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Effects of Oil Spill. (2020, Mar 18). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/effects-of-oil-spill/