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Air and Water Pollution: The Gulf Oil Spill Essay

On April 20, 2010, BP’s oil rig Deepwater Horizon blew up in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 people and unleashing more than 200 million gallons of oil into the water (Sakashita, N.D.). The spill oiled more than 1,000 miles of shoreline and a study from the Center for Biological Diversity shows that more than 82,000 birds; about 6,000 sea turtles; nearly 26,000 marine mammals, including dolphins; and an unknown, massive number of fish and invertebrates may have been harmed by the spill and its aftermath (Sakashita, N.D.). The spill of oil lasted for three months and in that time, did massive amounts of damage.

After Deepwater Horizon blew up, pollutants were introduced into the air and water. The air pollutants consisted of smoke and hydrocarbon fumes while the water pollutants consisted of the oil that spilled out of the rig and the dead animals that littered the Gulf after the spill. Both the smoke and the hydrocarbon fumes are primary pollutants meaning that they are pollutants that are emitted into the air directly from a source (Berg & Hager, 2009).

No matter the type of pollutant, primary or secondary, there is still an effect on the environment. The effects of the Gulf oil spill were numerous; many different animal species died as well as coral. The deaths of these animals could be considered as both short- and long-term effects on the environment. In the short-term, water pollutants could cause a population to decrease dramatically and possibly become threatened. In the long-term, water pollutants could cause species to become extinct due to the bottlenecking that would occur to try to repopulate the species.

Bottlenecking is “An abrupt and severe reduction in the number of individuals during the history of a species, resulting in the loss of diversity from the gene pool” (Bottleneck, 2012). The generations following the bottleneck are more genetically similar than expected. Bottlenecks often occur in consequence of a catastrophic event (Bottleneck, 2012). The air pollutants can cause both short- and long-term effects as well. According to the Center for Disease Control, the short-term effects of the air pollutants include upset stomach, headache, and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat in people sensitive to smells (Gulf Oil Spill 2010: Food/Air Quality/Water Information for Coastal Residents, n.d.).

References

Bottleneck. (2012). Retrieved from The Free Dictionary: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/bottlenecking Berg, L., & Hager, M. (2009). Visualizing Environmental Science (2nd Edition). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. Gulf Oil Spill 2010: Food/Air Quality/Water Information for Coastal Residents. (n.d.). Retrieved from Center for Disease Control and Prevention: http://emergency.cdc.gov/gulfoilspill2010/information_residents.asp Sakashita, M. (N.D.). Gulf Disaster. Retrieved from Center for Biological Diversity: http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/public_lands/energy/dirty_energy_development/oil_and_gas/gulf_oil_spill/index.html


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