Biohazard Chemicals Affecting Marine Life

Categories: EcologyOil Spill

This annotated bibliography explains why biohazard chemicals are affecting marine life using gathered information from scholarly science journals and popular magazines. These sources lay the foundation as to why biohazard chemicals dumped into our oceans are becoming such an issue causing many of our marine life to be affected with minor in some cases to major consequences resulting to death. Many scientists have come up with solutions to try to fix this problem with natural remedies to eliminate such chemicals, leaving speculation as to if such remedies are actually helping to alleviate the problem or adding to the problem.

This bibliography will focus on the following research questions: How are chemicals affecting the minke and sperm whales? Does climate change play a role in pre-existing chemical found in marine life? What kind of natural substances can be used to decrease such chemicals found in the ocean?

Netherland Dutch scientist have discovered poisonous industrial chemicals in the tissues of minke and sperm whales.

The substances have been identified as polybrominated compounds, which are used as flame retardants in products such as televisions and children’s clothing. These chemicals were discovered in small quantities which seemed to be harmless, but because both species feed in the North Atlantic where the water is assumed to be pollutant free the whales are still being impacted in some way. “The discovery suggests that the poisonous compounds are widely dispersed in the environment”(Toxic chemicals discovered in whales 1998). These chemicals are usually destroyed in waste incinerators. However, because evidence of these chemicals being seeped into the North Atlantic suggests that compounds are not being fully destroyed.

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The overall article was not a very effective or informative article, leaving a lot of questions due to limited detailed information. The article was easy to read in a language for any audience to comprehend, but because the article was so short there were not a lot of key points included in the article. It was hard to determine the ethos in the article due to it not having an author. There was not a credible person mentioned in the article other than the scientist that were mentioned that discovered the chemicals in the whales. The fact that these chemicals have been found in the whales that have been used in televisions and children’s clothing will make a person sympathetic for the potential harm it is causing to the whales. The logic of reasoning and persuasion was not achieved. There were no statistics provided or graphs showing how far out the chemicals are being spread other than the North Atlantic, it wasn’t enough detailed information included in the article as to what the actual chemicals found in the whale’s tissues did to the whales overall physically and mentally.

In comparison to the “Effects of Pollution on Marine Organisms” which is a scholarly journal in comparison to this magazine article is a drastic difference. The scholarly journal goes in more detail on how pollution is affecting marine life. It breaks down the different hazardous chemicals dumped into the oceans as well as the many species it is affecting. The scholarly journal gives an exact breakdown from specific test that were run on samples that had come in contact with different chemical compounds such as sea turtles, fish, oysters, and how the climate can either increase the chemical pollutants or decrease them depending on a certain temperature. Overall the magazine only talked about two species of whales and how the chemicals were harmless. Even though, both articles talked about some form of chemical being found in the marine life and oceans; the information was more widespread and had a tremendous amount of information and evidence to back their findings and tests that were administered.

Oil is a mixture of thousands of compounds, and every oil is different. All petroleum-based fuels, including the gasoline we pump into our cars, begin with crude oil that is pulled from the ground and processed at a refinery, where it is heated and separated into the different products we use. As crude oil is heated, lighter compounds evaporate and are collected and sold as gasoline, jet fuel, kerosene, diesel fuel, and motor oil. “ Heavy fuel oil is made from the residuum by ‘cutting,’ or adding one of the lighter fuels (such as diesel) to thin the residuum and make it easier to use”(Lemkau, K. 2011). Since every residuum oil is different and the type and amount of cutting oil varies, there is no standard heavy fuel oil. Individual components in this mixture of oil react differently in the marine environment and determine the environmental impacts the oil will have.

Heavy fuel oils are used to power the container ships that carry most of the goods traded in our global economy. Few heavy fuel oil spills have been well-studied, and understanding how these types of oil weather is critical for targeted oil spill response and cleanup efforts, as well as for informing discussions on their continued use. In San Francisco Bay there was an oil spill on November 2007 by a container ship. After it struck the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, the spill released tens of thousands of gallons of heavy fuel oil into the bay, leaving a residue of oil along the shores. The spill affected more than 100 miles of coastline. It killed more than 2,000 birds and may have caused a devastating decreased in local herring populations that resulted in the first closure of the bay’s only commercial fishery. It is has not been determined whether this decrease resulted from the spill or from natural causes. Once released into the environment, the various compounds within an oil can evaporate, or be dissolved into surrounding waters, eaten by microorganisms, or broken down by sunlight. How these processes affect different compounds depends on the individual compounds’ physical characteristics, including their size and chemical structure.

Smaller low-molecular-weight compounds, such as naphthalenes, are particularly susceptible to the processes of evaporation and water washing. Evaporation moves compounds from the oil into the atmosphere; water washing occurs as waves washed over oil exposed on rocks and compounds are dissolved into surrounding waters, exposing marine plants and animals to their potential toxins. Evaporation and water washing both act on low-molecular-weight compounds, determining these effects are not easy, and traditional oil spill studies rarely attempt to do so. However, removing these two processes is key to determining how a spilled oil will affect marine life. If more naphthalenes than previously suspected end up in water rather than air, the harmful effects on marine life could be greater. Environmental factors also play a role in these toxic chemicals polluting the air and effecting marine life. A spill in a warmer environment, can typically result in more evaporation than one occurring in a polar setting. The probability that a compound will move out of the oil and into air or water is closely tied to the compound’s weight and polarity. But among smaller compounds, those with higher polarities are more likely to be changed into water. Polarity is a property determined by how electrons within the atoms of a compound are arranged. In polar compounds, electrons are not evenly distributed across the compound’s structure. That gives certain parts of the compound more positive or negative charges, making them more likely to dissolve in water.

It was very unclear in the beginning to determine the ethos in this article, due to how the author started off in the beginning of the article. It was almost like he was telling a story about his trip on the way to the San Francisco shores as a suspense to the audience to gain interest in them to read further. Once the author reached his destination it was becoming clearer to understand his logic to why he started his journey the way he did. He was setting the scene for the argument he was about make, which was that the heavy fuels found in these container ships contained harmful toxins once they have been burned. These chemicals caused more toxins and once they hit the atmosphere created a decline in air quality. The toxins were responsible for over 60,000 deaths worldwide.

The sulfur content that is mixed with these heavy oil fuels is part of the dangerous component killing the marine life. In order to come to this conclusion the author had to prove that the rock samples he collected contained these heavy oil toxins on them. Once he gathered the needed information he also wanted to determine how the climate change would either cause the chemicals to dissolve into water or evaporate into the air depending on how warm or cold the temperatures were. In comparison to “Toxic Chemicals Discovered In Whales”, the observations and experiments performed were very different. One article just found chemicals in the whales tissues, but considered them harmless because now the whales were still alive. However, in the other article although the rocks were the only thing being tested at the time it was proof that the chemicals from the oil spill had created a poor air quality as well as killed marine life. The contents found in the heavy oils had also mixed with other harmful toxins over time causing the environment to suffer greatly. So in this particular article the focus was on a wide assortment of chemicals that were found in the heavy oils verses the one main chemical that was discovered in the whales tissues causing little to no side effects. Based off these comparisons on how different the two articles were even though they both were from magazines “Tracking Toxic Chemicals In Oil Spills” seemed to have more informative detailed information.

“Activities and development in coastal areas pose an increasing threat to natural and socio-economic goods and services supplied by marine ecosystems”(Mearns, A. J., Reish, D. J., Oshida, P. S.,2007). Brown algae was experimentally mixed with copper to determine the effects of contamination on organisms associated with this seaweed in both laboratory and field conditions to determine if they could remove cadmium from water. The sorption capacity of chemical increased. With an increase in pH indicating this may be a simple, inexpensive method for removal of this element from wastewater. A similar study was performed to determine metal sorption by the brown seaweed found a differential binding capacity at different salinities. This seaweed may be considered a good bio absorbent for some metals, especially lead. A researcher investigated the uptake of silver in the gulf toadfish to see if there was a difference in the accumulation and salinity concentration. The silver accumulation found in the gills and plasma was inversely related to salinity. The results showed that the metal and zinc absorption could not be fully explained by the concentrations of these metals in the presence of different molecules indicating that the metal molecules were partially absorbed. The results suggest that different metals are influenced by aging and may have toxic results. The potential use of sensitive and early metabolic pathological reactions to environmental pollutants continues to be explored and used to predict health in the marine environment.

My analysis in this journal was somewhat complicated, this article was very hard to read let alone understand due to the scientific terminology that was used. Even after I looked some of the terms up to see what they meant it was still hard for me to understand. The audience for this journal would appeal more to people who study this particular field. The journal was credible due to all the references they provided within the article. The logic of persuasion was proven with the different experiments they performed using different metals and how they reacted with different species of marine life. In regard to another scholarly journal the “Report of the study group on marine pollutants”, were strikingly similar. They both composed of paper worked gathered from different researchers performing various experiments on chemicals and marine life to determine how they are affected. They both emphasized how when chemicals mix due to change in the environment can cause even more harmful effects. In order to obtain there burden of proof took years of experimentation to get an accurate answer to the surrounding problems concerning toxic pollutants. Although the conclusions that the researchers came up with were added in the study report the skepticism till arises whether the combinations used will cure all toxic pollutants in the oceans.

This article is based off of the fifth year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that happened in 2010. This oil spill was considered the largest marine disaster in North America. The Deepwater Horizon oil rig, operated in the Gulf of Mexico by the oil and gas company BR. The April 20 blast killed 11 rig workers and started an 87-day eruption of oil and gas. Around 5 million barrels of oil and hundreds of thousands of metric tons of gas gushed from the well, known as Macondo, located 1,500 meters below sea level. “The spill was so large that a swirl of oil in the Gulf could be seen from space”(Mole, B.2015). The most confusing aspect about the oil spill is that scientists still don’t know exactly what happened to majority of the oil. Only a quarter of the oil was accounted for. The spill was a dramatic experience, but the long-term toll on wildlife has been uncertain; some species in the Gulf are struggling while others are doing fine. Instead of a substantial collapse of life, researchers are finding extensive effects from the oil spill that have surfaced three to four years after the spill occurred that the scientist are still trying to figure out.

During this spill researchers noticed that the crickets were dying but were unsure as to if it was a direct cause due to the oil spill. They noticed that after cleaning up what they could visibly see that 75% of the oil was nowhere to be found, but then discovered it’s a possibility the oil has turned into “weathered oil” which occurs when oil basks in the sun or mingles with other chemicals in the environment, it mutates, forming a more complex and potentially more toxic chemical. In these findings of the “weathered oil” samples the actual Macondo oil from the oil spill in 2010 was no longer present. Some of the chemicals that remain have sucked in oxygen and morphed into undefined compounds.

The signature of those weathered chemicals will help researchers track the oil in years to come and calculate just how much is still floating around in the Gulf. Efforts to determine exactly where the unaccounted 75% of Macondo oil is underway. It has been assumed that the remainder of that oil is lying at the bottom of the golf, but are concerned if it will reemerge. Some of the oil on the seafloor arrived in mucus like blobs. Researchers suspect that the blobs formed when oil compounds clumped with phytoplankton or with slime from oil-degrading microbes, such as Cycloclasticus bacteria. The blobs also could have formed around burnt particles from the burned oil, or around chemicals called dispersants that were sprayed during the spill to help break up oil slicks. Although, the dispersants were used to help with the oil spill it remains questionable if the use of dispersants is actually more of a hinderance rather than a solution.

In my analysis the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was a very devastating and traumatic experience that some people as well as the marine life are still being impacted from. The fact that researchers still don’t have all the answers as to why the marine life are still being effected years after the oil spill occurred is mind boggling. After much research and experiments on samples that were found still does not provide proof of such catastrophic events.

However, the fact that the sperm whales won’t even feed or swim within a certain vicinity of the oil spill years after the oil spill occurred says a lot about researchers speculations. Different scientists put their scientific knowledge and expertise to the test. Many of the scientists came with different assumptions, but correlated with other scientist conclusions as to why these occurrences are still increasing after the oil spill. The article emphasizes with not only the human lives that were lost from the spill, but also the dramatic decline in the marine life. Due to the tremendous amount of scientist involved in these observations and experiments makes the article more believable, all while reaching to an audience that will sympathize with the effects it caused the marine life.

In my comparison with this article and “Adsorption of crude and engine oils from water using raw rice husk”, were different in many aspects. The article was basically based on the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster that occurred in 2010. Although, there was a significant amount of damaged caused by the oil spill the day the spill occurred the article basically focused on the unaccounted oil from the spill that was missing. Even years after the oil spill disaster evidence of the spill is still aaffectingmarine life in some way.

The use of the dispersants to help decrease the effects from the oil spill has actually created more harmful toxins within the marine life as well as the humans who consume the marine life. In reference to the science journal which uses raw rice husk to absorb different oil compounds is a low-cost natural remedy but actually works. There has been no known side effects from using this natural substance. The journal clarifies how the raw rice husk should be used to absorb different oil compounds found in the ocean using different formulas. Both articles had a tremendous amount of detailed information along with extensive research and experiments individually tested; however the raw rice husk seems to be the most ecofriendly natural remedy that works without causing after effects that will hinder the present and future marine life.

The use of raw rice husk is an efficient and low cost for the removal of three oil compounds with different viscosities such as crude oil, engine oil, and spent engine oil. Rice husks used as solvents removes environmental pollutants, but also reduces the problems of burning and the disposal of agricultural by-products(Noor, Syuhadah & Rohasliney 2012). The adsorption process is an economic and eco-friendly approach used to remove oil pollutants in aqueous environments. “The sorbent characteristics related to oil adsorption include hydrophobicity, retention over time, high oil recovery rate, high oil sorption capacity, and the reusability and biodegradability of sorbents”(Razavi, Z., Mirghaffari, N., & Rezaei, B. 2014). Asia has the biggest rice production with about 90% of the world’s production and consumption. Iran’s rice production is increasing and becoming the most important crop. The rice husk are produced in significant quantities, but because it is burnt in some cases it causes an increase in air pollution.

Using raw rice husk and its derivatives as an effective sorbent to remove different types of environmental pollutants such as dyes, phenols, organic compounds, and heavy metals has been carefully studied. Researchers have used modified rice husk as the sorbent and have reported its efficiency for removing a variety of compounds. The pre-treatment steps used in this process are expensive and time consuming. In emergency oil spill situations, the use of raw rice husk sorbents for rapid and economic treatment of contaminated water is the most preferable sorbent. The main purpose for this study is to investigate the use of raw rice husk as an efficient and low cost adsorbent for the removal of three oil compounds with different viscosities from water.

The effects of different parameters such as pH of solution, contact time, sorbent particle size, initial oil concentration and sorbent dosage during adsorption were also included in this study to see if these factors could either improve or worsen the issue. Oil compounds with different viscosities, included crude oil, engine oil, and spent engine oil were used in the experiments. The raw rice husk were ground and separated into different particle sizes for the adsorption experiments. The composition of raw rice husk was determined by an analyzer elemental instrument. The adsorption experiments were conducted by adding a specific amount of oil compounds into a flask containing 250ml of tap water. The pH of the solutions was adjusted using pH meter. The sorbent was added, shaken at 150 rpm for a fixed time and separated by vacuum pump filtering with filter paper (No. 41 Whatman). The sorbent was dried in the oven for 24 hours at a temperature of 50 W C. The oil adsorption percentage was determined by the weighting method using a mathematical equation.

This journal included so much in depth and greatly detailed information it was hard to determine which key points to include. It discussed how the raw husk was made to create these experiments, as well as how it was mixed to incorporate the different oil compounds to see how effective the raw rice husk actually was. The journal was very credible and included different aspects from various scientist. Although, the overall journal wasn’t as easy to understand due to the scientific terminology that was used, they did provide graphs and specific formulas that were used in this study so that you could have a visual view as to what they were talking about. The fact that these studies were broken down into so many experiments gives the reader a chance to determine which formulas can be used for the three different oil compounds, to eliminate some of the chemical hazards dumped in the oceans. The logistics of the experiments performed proved that the raw rice husk actually works and can be a very economic and environmentally friendly product to use in oil spills.

This journal compared to “Tracking Toxic Chemicals in Oil Spills” was strikingly similar. The journal went as far as breaking down the different types of compounds as well as different formulas to use that minimize the toxic chemicals in the ocean, whereas the article on “toxic chemicals” used the same information but in a way for everyone to understand. Both sources gave key points and detailed information pertaining to the different oil compounds found in the oceans causing the marine life to be effected. These chemicals were also determined to be the cause of air pollution as well by using pollutant free natural substances to eliminate the toxins in the ocean and the air. Although, these were two different articles the information given in both were very helpful and coincided with each other in such a way it makes the articles even more believable coming from two different authors with different agendas.

Marine pollution is considered to be one of the main threats to the world’s oceans. Contaminants may enter the ocean through ships, waste water, and accidental spills. “Since the ‘poison is in the dose’, the extent to which any one contaminant elicits adverse effects depends on the sensitivity of the organism in question and the concentration of the contaminant in its habitat”(Ross, P. S. 2014). Hydrocarbons are the primary components of petroleum such as crude oil and fuel, sometimes derived from coal. Alkaline is very abundant in petroleum and susceptible to degradation in marine environments. There are fewer hydrocarbons than nonaromatic in petroleum. However, hydrocarbons are more resistant to degradation such while some hydrocarbons remain in marine environments for extended periods of time. Hydrocarbon contamination in marine environments is considered an indication of human activity.

A number of elements have been identified that pose risks to the health of marine life and humans. These include metals such as mercury, lead, and white metal, which occur in marine food webs but can reach harmful levels. High levels of these elements can present a risk to some wildlife and humans. Marine debris, especially microplastics, is a global concern, as it transcends national boundaries. Plastic debris in the ocean is ongoing and is expected to last for hundreds of years. The worldwide production of plastics is increasing, suggesting that the North Pacific may face increasing pressures from plastic debris. Marine debris causes direct effects on various marine animals such as seabirds, marine mammals, sea turtles, and fish by being tangled up and ingestion. While these debris can cause obvious and lethal effects, they present a more of a risk to animal and plant life. Microplastics may be ingested and may contain absorbed toxic chemicals and additives.

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Biohazard Chemicals Affecting Marine Life. (2022, May 03). Retrieved from

Biohazard Chemicals Affecting Marine Life
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