Environmental Forensics And Chemical Fingerprinting Scholarly Peer-review Journal

 It is estimated that between 1.7 and 8.8 million plenty of petroleum hydrocarbons are released into the marine environment annually , with a best estimate of three .2 million tons per annum . Although major oil spills, just like the Exxon-Valdez spill of 1989 or last summer’s Deepwater Horizon spill within the Gulf of Mexico, garner much media and citizen attention, you'll be surprised to find out that tanker accidents only account for ~13% of the entire petroleum hydrocarbon mass released to the environment. The remaining 87% is primarily released through smaller, less noticeable “spills”, like washing of tanks and changing of tanker ballast water. The source of those less publicized spills are often difficult to discern. Additionally, approximately 0.3 million plenty of petroleum makes its way into marine systems entirely via natural processes, like natural seeps. Petroleum doesn’t dissolve in water to an excellent extent because it's hydrophobic (“water hating”). Hydrophobic compounds – compounds that are generally nonpolar and enormous – have the potential to accumulate in fatty (hydrophobic) tissues in organisms and in organic fractions of soil and sediment. The chemistry phrase “like dissolves like” explains tons of environmental chemical behavior! Thus, the contamination can quite literally “stick” around for an extended time. Additionally, hydrophobic petroleum compounds also can remain within the environment as “non-aqueous phase liquids” or NAPLs (pronounced “napples”). In other words, NAPL is simply un-dissolved, pure organic liquid, oil or gasoline during this case, that slowly dissolves or evaporates over the course of years. NAPLs generally function long-term sources of environmental contamination. Many compounds in petroleum are toxic or carcinogenic to organisms. Moreover, the direct effects, including oil-coated birds and contaminated or severely depleted food supplies can wreak havoc on an ecosystem.

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