Role of the Sciences

"As long as you have something to look forward to, a little glimmer of hope, you can move on. But this just drained everything out of us."

- Councilman Jay LaFont of Grand Isle, Louisiana

one thinks of oil spills, the destruction of marine life, wildlife, humans and/or habitats will eventually come to mind. What about the chemistry related to it? Because oil comes in different forms – from crude oils to refined petroleum products – its damaging effects may vary. (Note that although oil’s effects may vary, they are almost always damaging.) Several consequences that surface through oil spills listed online on the Australian Maritime Safety Authority website were: the burning of eyes and skin, the irritation or damaging in sensitive membranes in the nose, eyes and mouth. Carcinogens or substances/agents that can cause cancer like Benzene, toluene, and other light hydrocarbons of oil and fuels, according to the online article, Oil Composition and Chemistry and the Effects on Wildlife, “…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.” This shows that the toxicity of oil spills are a force to be reckoned with. They should be prevented, but if they happen to happen, they shouldn’t be ignored. Knowing more about the chemistry of oil spills can play a big role in cleaning up these unwanted messes.

"Effects of Maritime Oil Spills on Wildlife." Australian Maritime Safety Authority. Web. 07 July 2010. <