Water Pollution General

Oil Spills

By Eri Akama

We had several oil spills during the last century. Oil spills also contaminate the water. When a ship carrying oil bumps into a hard object, it will release the oil the ship contains. Oil is lighter than water therefore, it floats on water, and this is an advantage to the oil because it is able to travel with the tide. As the oil expands in on top of the water, unfortunate animals get covered in this sticky substance.

Animals that get covered in this substance are totally helpless. It makes them unable to do some things, which are essential to the certain animal's living. For example, birds are not able to take flight because of the weight of the oil. It takes an awful amount of soap to wash this sticky stuff off the animals.

After the animal is cleaned and restored to its normal conditions it is released to the wild the animal may have been cleaned. But the water is it clean? Unfortunately it is not. It takes more than a year to clean the mess. Sites which have had oil spills must be watched and supervised for more than five years to be absolutely confident in the fact that the water is clean.

The most recent happened last year, by Peru. It was the M/V New Carissa Incident. This accident took place on the 11th of February of 1999. Not much has been said about the conditions, and so it does not appear to be a big problem, but it is still being supervised.

There was also a minor accident by the East Coast of the U.S. On January 19,(unable to get the exact year) the Rhode Island Oil spill occurred just south of Rhode Island.

A record was made in Britain by one of the worst oil spills, the Sea Empress oil spill. It occurred some time in February of the year 1996. It occurred near the location of Pembrokeshire Coastal National Park, of Britain. It was considered the worst, and largest oil spill recorded in Britain.

Probably the most famous of the oil spills was that of the Exxon Valdez. The Exxon Valdez case occurred on the night of March 24, 1989. It is probably the biggest spill we have had this century. It occurred just south of Alaska's Prince William Sound. It was such a terrible accident it is still being supervised 10 years after the incident, because of the horrid thought that some nasty result will make it's way through if the area is left alone.

Comment from Eri: After researching this subject I have discovered the horror of oil spills. And after reading this essay I hope you have too. Let's all cooperate together to prevent as many horrors as possible. Let's all live a healthy and safe life. Remember prevention starts at home!

How do we measure pollutants?

We know that the water is polluted, but what now? Next the pollutant is measured. Therefore, a laboratory somewhere will analyze the water. Why do we need to do that? To see how bad the conditions of the water are. Most of the time, if things are serious you will probably see a whole lot of dead fish in the water. But, unfortunately, most of the time, both harmful and beneficial bacteria, or substances are scentless, and not visible to the naked eye.

    There are many ways of classifying the pollutant, but the most common ways are gravimetric, electrochemical and optical. Gravimetric is a very efficient way of measuring the condition of the water, all you have to do is weigh the pollutant on a very sensitive scale, that should be able to tell one-tenth of a milligram.

    The other common way, electrochemical analysis uses what is already there to help identify the pollutant. As one should know, all atoms and molecules are surrounded by a bunch of electrons. When using the electrochemical strategy a small amount of electrodes are released into the concerned matter. A very sensitive reader attached to the substances will read the amount of voltage that is in the water.

    Now we know how it is measured, but how do we tell how bad it is. Most of the pollutants are classified under pH terms. pH measures how acidic or alkaline a solution is. 7 is the neutral (number) form on the scale. The solution is measured on a scale of 0-14, anything above 7 is alkaline, and anything below 7 is acidic.

Comment from Eri: 

Remember this is not doable at home unless you are a scientist with the equipment. Leave it to the professionals to inform you on the condition of the water near you. And use your common sense. If there are a lot of dead fish floating in the lake/pond/river/beach turn around and go home! It might not be safe around that certain area. Be sure to tell an adult about what you have seen, and ask them to inform the authorities. 

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