By: Annie Reisewitz and Sarah Martin

We’ve all heard the old adage, “Oil and water don’t mix.” Yet we are constantly mixing the two, it seems, hoping that one day they will indeed mix. Add in drought and pollution and the potential environmental problems grow even larger.

Every year 10 billion gallons of liquid petroleum, in the form of motor oil and other industrial lubricants, are released into the environment due to human activity. But how does that oil affect the quality of our water supply, especially in severe drought regions like California?

Image for post
Image for post

As motor oil circulates through a car’s engine it picks up heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, cadmium, copper and zinc, as well as other toxins. The U.S. EPA considers all of these to be priority pollutants, toxins that, according to the Clean Water Act, are a high priority for development of water quality control measures and discharge limitations because they are frequently found in wastewater. …


Image for post
Image for post

Heavy metals in motor oil have heavy environmental consequences

By: Annie Reisewitz and Sarah Martin

We’ve all heard the old adage, “oil and water don’t mix.” Yet we are constantly mixing the two, it seems, hoping that one day they will indeed mix. Add in drought and pollution, and the potential environmental problems grow even larger.

Every year 10 billion gallons of liquid petroleum, in the form of motor oil and other industrial lubricants, are released into the environment due to human activity. …


MANILA — In many major Asian towns and cities in China, India, the Philippines, Thailand, and other countries, a lot of the public transport and hauling conveyances are built from vehicles with surplus dilapidated engines. In trying to save money the wrong way, many of the owners improperly filter used motor oil without the right equipment and mix it with some new oil to return it back to their already poorly maintained engines. At times they may not even bother to mix it in with new oil and use all the old oil.

The outcome? A disastrous combination that results in high rates of vehicle air pollution in many Asian cities like Bangkok, Shanghai and Manila. The improperly filtered oil contributes to what mechanics call “blow by,” wherein an engine starts to burn motor oil (instead of just gasoline or diesel). The sight of a vehicle burning oil with their black plumes of thick smoke is a common sight. …


Obvious oil spills, like the 168,000 gallons (635,000 liters) of oil that leaked into Galveston Bay on Saturday, usually make national news, accompanied by pictures of oil-blackened wildlife.

But such publicized events account for only a small part of the total amount of oil pollution in the oceans — and many of the other sources, such as automobile oil, go largely unnoticed, scientists say.

In fact, of the tens of millions of gallons of oil that enter North American oceans each year due to human activities, only 8 percent comes from tanker or oil pipeline spills, according to the 2003 book Oil in the Sea III by the U.S. …


By Annie Reisewitz and Sarah Martin

It’s been calculated that a tanker leaking a drop of oil every 10 seconds releases 60 gallons of petroleum oil into the world’s oceans every year.

Water, now more than ever, has become a precious resource in need of protection. We are facing a number of looming water-related crises in the U.S. that are endangering our drinking water and food supplies. Among them, one prominent concern is the quality of our water supply. …

About

#SilentOilSpills

Join the movement to stop Silent Oil Spills. Together we can prevent petroleum pollution and the environmental damage to water, land & air. #CleanWaterWednesday

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store