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Environmental Health Assessment - Essay Example

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There is no denying the fact that the oil refineries are a potential source of environmental pollution. Thus the places like Torrance, California, which have a significant number of oil refineries scattered across the landscape, are especially prone to the health hazards caused by oil refineries…
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Environmental Health Assessment
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Download file to see previous pages The hydrocarbon wastes emitted by the oil refineries can do immense damage to the biological systems situated in their vicinity (Jahdali, 2008, p.34). The environmental pollution caused by the oil refineries has a broad scope that involves an above average level of pollutants in the air, large scale contamination of the soil and the above average contamination of the underground and above ground water resources (Jahdali, 2008, p.34). The gravest risk to the residents living in the neighborhoods like Torrance, which lie in the vicinity of a proposed petroleum refinery, will come from the utterly polluted air (Jahdali, 2008, p.35).
The emissions from most of the oil refineries contain large amounts of sulfur dioxide, Nitrogen oxides, and heavy metals like zinc, lead, cadmium, besides loads of other pollutants like toluene, phenol and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (Jahdali, 2008, p.35). Sulfur dioxide is the primary pollutant emitted by the oil refineries that gets accumulated in the lower layers of atmospheric air. Rainfall and humidity cause this toxic gas to precipitate and settle down in the surrounding soil (Jahdali, 2008, p.35). Eventually this pollutant gets absorbed by the plants including the fruits and vegetables growing in the area. Sulfur dioxide has been known to cause a range of ailments like lung cancer, allergic rhinitis, lung inflammations and a number of other respiratory and cardiovascular diseases (Opera and Mihul, 2003, p.84). The damage caused by sulfur dioxide to the people living in the vicinity of the oil refineries comes from two sources i.e. through long term inhalation of the polluted air and through the food chain. Besides sulfur dioxide, the other pollutants emitted by the petroleum refineries are also known to cause many debilitating and sometimes incurable diseases.
Another potential risk to the people living around the oil refineries comes from asbestos that is widely used for insulation in the oil refineries. Thus not only the workers employed in the petroleum refineries get exposed to asbestos, but the people living around such facilities do get to inhale asbestos particles emitted by them. Asbestos has been known to cause pleural mesotheliomas and is a medically proven carcinogenic substance (You Claim, 2002). The threat caused by asbestos emissions from the petroleum refineries is particularly pertinent in the case of the US, which has nearly 150 petroleum refineries scattered across 32 states.
Besides, various scientific studies have established beyond doubt that the children living in proximity to industrial pollutants face severe problems related to academic and physical growth (Krisberg, 2006, p.3). Exposure to air pollutants emitted by facilities like petroleum refineries has been known to cause augmented instances of Preterm Delivery in the residents living around them (Leem, et al., 2006, p.1). As per a British medical study, rampant instances of childhood leukemia were noticed near petroleum refineries and oil storage installations (Gilman, 1997, p.156).
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