Oil pollution generally means pollution caused by petroleum oil.


The major oil pollution in marine environment (sea)is caused by the backage or disaster of oil tanker-ships. ’Torrey Canyon’ oil tanker carrying 1,17,000 tons of crude oil moving through the English Channel near Briton in March 1967 broke apart spilling oil which spread 160 km British coast and 80 km French Coast. Nearly 25,000 birds and aquatic animals die due to the oil spill. Like this there are other notable disaster of oil tankers spilling oil in the sea. Besides the accidents, the oil pollution is due to the leakages in tankers loading and unloading offshore production spills out and due to industrial effluents produced from automobile industries.

Effects of oil pollution

The oil pollution can exist in the following form

  • Floating material
  • Emulsion dispersed in water (or) sea water.
  • Dissolved in water or sea water.
  • Absorbed on sediments.
  • Get into marine organisms
  1. Heavy oil slick that get into the feathers of sea birds, prevent them from flying.
  2. Sea animals like seal, sea lions and musk rats etc are affected by oil spills. The easy swimming movements of these animals are restricted.
  3. The poisonous effects, of the oil spill can cause death to the fishes sea birds and sea animals.
  4. The oil spills can cause the mal development of eggs and larvac of marine organisms.
  5. Some of the aromatic polynuclear hydrocarbons present in the oil polluted environment can get into the body systems leading to cancer.
  6. Oil pollution affects the migration behaviour of some of the fish varieties.
  7. Several polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) present in the oil are mutagenic and tertagenic and can cause abnormalities of the off springs in several aquatic organisms.
  8. The decrease in activity of the algae’s due to the inhibited algal cell division.
  9. Some of the salt marsh plants are more affected and die due to the oil pollution of marine environment.

     10.  Oil spills develop anaerobic condition in water and causes microbial degradation that further makes the condition worst.

Control measures

  1. One of the important method of oil spills is the use of floating containment barriers. These are made up of plastic materials (PE,PVC, P.U ,Neoprene, P.P, Epoxies or Nylon) and contain inflated sacs at regular intervals for floatation. Any oil spills floating on the sea can be contained in them where it can be removed conveniently.
  2. Many kind of specific (materials or chemicals) to disperse or accumulate or burning oil slicks.
  3. Specific micro organisms (bacterias) that absorbs the oil slick is under experimentation.


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