Yamamoto, Julie California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Sacramento, California.
Michel, Jacqueline Research Planning, Inc., Columbia, South Carolina.
Last reviewed:April 2021
Show previous versions
- Oil spill, published June 2018:Download PDF Get Adobe Acrobat Reader
- Oil spills, published June 2016:Download PDF Get Adobe Acrobat Reader
- Sources of oil spills
- Oil properties and environmental fate
- Ecological impacts of oil spills
- Human impacts of oil spills
- Oil spill response methods
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
Accidental or intentional releases of crude oil or other petroleum products into the environment. Oil spills can occur almost anywhere in the world and cause a great deal of ecological, social, and economic harm, particularly when oil is released into oceans or other waters. Oil can be in the form of crude oil or various petroleum products produced from oil refining. Each type of oil, whether crude oil or refined product, has a unique chemical composition and characteristics. How spilled oil spreads and changes in the environment and the kinds of harm it can cause depend on the type of oil, the environmental conditions in which the spill occurs, and the geographic location. In general, the heavier and thicker an oil is, the more persistent it will be in the environment. Heavier oils tend to be less acutely toxic than lighter oils, but can coat and smother plants and animals (biota) in the spill area. Cleanup of oil spills into water focuses on controlling the source, getting oil off the surface of the water, and cleaning the affected shorelines (Fig. 1). During and after an oil spill response, restoration of the affected area helps to minimize the effects and return the area (and affected animals) to pre-spill conditions over time. See also: Petroleum; Petroleum products; Toxicology
The content above is only an excerpt.
for your institution. Subscribe
To learn more about subscribing to AccessScience, or to request a no-risk trial of this award-winning scientific reference for your institution, fill in your information and a member of our Sales Team will contact you as soon as possible.
to your librarian. Recommend
Let your librarian know about the award-winning gateway to the most trustworthy and accurate scientific information.
AccessScience provides the most accurate and trustworthy scientific information available.
Recognized as an award-winning gateway to scientific knowledge, AccessScience is an amazing online resource that contains high-quality reference material written specifically for students. Contributors include more than 10,000 highly qualified scientists and 46 Nobel Prize winners.
MORE THAN 8700 articles covering all major scientific disciplines and encompassing the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology and McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science & Technology
115,000-PLUS definitions from the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms
3000 biographies of notable scientific figures
MORE THAN 19,000 downloadable images and animations illustrating key topics
ENGAGING VIDEOS highlighting the life and work of award-winning scientists
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY and additional readings to guide students to deeper understanding and research
LINKS TO CITABLE LITERATURE help students expand their knowledge using primary sources of information