Spills of the oil and hazardous waste kind are harmful to the environment and ecological system, but not a lot of people are aware of just how extensive their damage is. Not that there haven’t been any examples that we really ought to learn from. In 1991, the largest oil spill in the world happened in the Persian Gulf, and it caused the termination of more than 30,000 marine birds. Not only that, fish populations dramatically decreased due to the immediate effect of the oil spill on fish eggs. Although the wildlife populations in the Persian Gulf had recovered by 2008, it is still just one oil spill from hundreds of others occurring all over the world.
How do spills and hazardous waste affect the animal population?
A recent study has shown that toxic concentrations of dilbit, the mixture of gasoline-like solvents and bitumen, that flows through pipelines and into the seas can seriously cause harm to fish populations. Causing deformities, physiological and genetic stress, as well as abnormal swim bladders in fish exposed to it, dilbit reduces the fish’s ability to feed, thus lowering their rate of survival.
How does this affect us?
These results give us new perspective on just how bad the damage from oil spills and other hazardous waste could be not only to the physical environment but also to fish populations. And when one population is in decline, it affects the rest of the food chain, as well. The marine animals who eat the fish, and even us humans who directly consume the fish affected by exposure to hazardous waste can suffer from the toxic properties ingested by the said fish.
What can be done?
Proper containment of hazardous waste, and more responsible handling oil and toxic spills are both necessary to prevent these substances from affecting our ecological system. Companies need to be responsible for their own waste management, and for the training of their workers. A 40 hour hazwoper training from The Asbestos Institute or other OSHA-accredited centers is imperative for those in the hazardous waste business, and companies should be vigilant about having their workers certified.
Oil spills and hazardous waste affects not just our daily schedules, it also affects the rest of the species that we share this planet with and that we need to survive. A call for action is necessary, lest we all have to adapt to losing some of the common dishes that we’ve come to get used to.
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