Wednesday, May 24, 2017

How Oil Harms Animals: PART II

Oil can harm animals in two ways: from the oil itself and then from the cleanup process afterwards. This post is about how the clean up of oil actually harms animals as well.

By using hot water or chemicals to remove oil, this directly can harm animals. Many people try to save birds by washing them off, but the chemicals of the oil are so powerful, that sometimes it's too late. Pressure washing the beaches can remove smaller organisms from the bigger animal's food chain.

Special chemicals called dispersants are sprayed over oil spills to help break up the oil into smaller chunks. This makes the oil more easily spread out into the environment. However, even though these chemicals can breakdown petroleum, they also breakdown cell membranes in marine mammals. Thus, red blood cells begin to to breakdown, with the ending resulting in hemorrhaging of the animals.

Photo: Dead oiled sea otter after the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

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