How Oil Spills Effect Our Environment


Oil is very useful and important when thinking about our economic and environmental growth as a country and globally. However, when mining, transporting, and using oil there is a chance this oil can be spilled. These oil spills can have major impacts on the environment and the economy. A lot of the time these spills are small and can be cleaned up and only have minimal impacts on the environment. However, sometimes oil is spilled on land and/or water and leaves a major long-term mark on the environment. According to Jones, petroleum is toxic for humans and animals to inhale and ingest and prolonged exposure can lead to many health complications including cancer and can sometimes even result in death. So, when these oil spills occur, they negatively impact the affected areas and the wildlife that live there.

Wildlife Impacts

When petroleum is spilled it has a major impact on the wildlife around the affected area. When this type of oil is spilled, it generally creates a film on the surface of the water. When oil spills, it contaminates animals’ food sources and even the animals themselves. When animals (particularly ones with some type of fur or feathers) come in contact with oil, it sticks to them and does not come off easily. The oil on their bodies can impact animals in various different ways. According to Impact Law, oil on animals’ fur, feathers, or skin can cause hypothermia, drowning, and or poisoning. When an animal is hunting in an environment which has been affected by an oil spill, they can end up consuming another animal which has been contaminated with oil which leads to the poisoning of that animal. Oil spills can impact wildlife for generations considering oil impacts animals reproductive health in many ways. According to Edmund, “oil impacts breeding and reproduction, for example contaminating bird or turtle nests on shore, affecting viability, and suffocating unhatched chicks”. This shows how oil spills could lead to decreased birth rates of species which are already endangered or threatened species. Another way that oil spills can impact wildlife is through storm drains. When oil is spilled on a roadway or other surface, it can leak into storm drains and/ or other bodies of water. This water can be used to feed livestock or animals in the wild may use this water as a water source after it has become contaminated and it can severely harm or kill these animals who consume this oil.

Human Impacts

The impact of oil spills on humans is generally overlooked as well. According to Impact Law, oil spills have impacts on fishing, shipping, and tourism industries. When oil is spilled in the ocean, it has the capability to kill many different types of fish, crabs, and other sea life. This has a major economic impact on those who live and rely on this sea life as a source of food and/ or income. Not to mention, when oil pollutes the ocean and beaches, people are unable to safely swim in the water or lounge on the beach. This can destroy the tourism industry which a region relies on. Lastly, shipping is also impacted by oil… if oil is spilled in a shipping lane, ships may have to avoid the spill as it could cause damage to their vessel or spread the oil out.


Oil has proven very useful to our world especially over the past few hundred years. However, with the use of oil also comes consequences like oil spills. As we continue to use and transport oil it is vital that we come up with better solutions and preventative methods to these spills as to help protect our lives and wildlife. This all being said, when finding and using any source of energy, there will be environmental consequences. In one of our previous blogs, we discussed how electric vehicles have negative impacts on the environment as well. Click this link to check out that blog: How Electric Vehicles Have an Effect on Our Environment – Highlands Environmental Solutions, Inc.

Contact Us:

Highlands Environmental Solutions, Inc. is available to assist with emergency response and general environmental compliance. We are ready to respond should an environmental incident occur. Contact us at 1-855-437-3278 or

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