Over time the effects of Gasoline on the environment have been devastating. Gasoline is a pale brown or pink liquid toxic and highly flammable liquid. The vapors given off when gasoline evaporates and the substances produced when gasoline is burned (carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and unburned hydrocarbons) contribute to air pollution.
Gasoline is a mixture of about 150 chemicals refined from crude oil. It evaporates easily, is highly flammable, and can form explosive mixtures in the air. Gasoline contains benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene.These are known as the BTEX compounds.
Gasoline is used as a fuel in cars, boats, lawnmowers, and other engines, but they also use in small aircraft. Gasoline contains additives such as lubricants, anti-rust agents, and anti-icing agents to enhance the performance of cars.
The most common additive used in gasoline is methyl tetra-butyl ether (MTBE). It is added to increase octane and oxygen levels and reduce pollution emissions. Burning gasoline also produces carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.
It has been discovered that gasoline alone makes up 22% of the United States carbon emissions from energy consumption in transportation. Vehicle emissions from burning gasoline and diesel fuels contain toxic pollutants including carbon monoxide, smog-causing volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides, formaldehyde, and benzene.
Top 10 Effects of Gasoline on the Environment
As a fuel, gasoline can negatively affect the environment in diverse ways. The environment is usually exposed to gasoline vapor and gasoline-engine exhaust. Before combustion, gasoline is a highly volatile mixture of natural hydrocarbons and other organic chemicals derived from crude petroleum.
Manufacturers add more chemicals to gasoline to improve the octane rating, increase combustion efficiency, and protect engine and exhaust components. Gasoline typically contains more than 150 chemicals, with the exact content depending on factors such as the geographic region, the season, the gasoline grade/octane rating, the crude petroleum source, and the producer.
Many of the harmful effects of gasoline on the environment are as follows:
- Soil Contamination
- Groundwater and Surface Water Pollution
- Air Pollution
- Health Risks to Human
- Loss of Species
- Ocean Acidification
- Extreme weather
- Global Warming
- Climate Change
- Sea Level Rise
1. Soil Contamination
Gasoline can clog the soil so that water and air find it difficult to move to plant roots resulting in drought-like symptoms in plants. The soil can be contaminated by gasoline by spills, leaks, and improper disposal of gasoline or even car accidents.
2. Groundwater and Surface Water Pollution
Some chemicals in gasoline dissolve in water. Chemicals dissolve in water and spread through the water’s surface thereby contaminating the water body. Gasoline can also enter the environment when there is a leak from underground storage tanks or pipelines, these seeps through the ground to contaminate the underground water.
Gasoline can also contaminate water through oxygenates in the soil. Oxygenates in the soil can be dissolved in rainwater and carried through the soil into groundwater which is used as a drinking water source.
3. Air Pollution
When gasoline is burned or combusted, a large number of chemicals are produced and emitted into the air. Fuel consumption contributes greatly to air pollution as well as greenhouse gas emissions. Pollutants caused by fuel combustion include particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, benzene, metals, and sulfur dioxide, among others; many of these contribute to the creation of smog.
Also, gasoline chemicals evaporate in small amounts when filling your tank or when gasoline is accidentally spilled onto the surface. During the process of filling, and emptying tanker trucks, and when filling cars at gas stations gasoline can be released into the air.
Furthermore, chemicals that dissolve in water evaporate into the air and are broken down by natural processes. Air pollution from fossil fuels can cause acid rain, eutrophication (excessive nutrients that can harm aquatic ecosystems by lowering oxygen levels), damage to crops and forests, and harm to wildlife.
4. Health Risk to Human
Having exposure to gasoline or gasoline vapors in large quantities over an extended period can cause serious health complications. and ingesting even a small quantity of the chemicals by an individual may lead to death.
Exposure to gasoline can be through breathing gasoline-contaminated air, eating contaminated food, drinking or bathing with contaminated water, through skin contact, which is seen when pumping gas or cleaning up gasoline spills when gasoline in small quantities of hydrocarbons enters the bloodstream.
It can reduce the functioning of the Central Nervous System (CNS) and cause organ damage. Gasoline is not only toxic when ingested. A person can also sustain damage to the skin, eyes, and lungs when they come in contact with gasoline liquid or the fumes or vapors of gasoline.
5. Loss of Species
In terms of public health, the researchers calculate that the gasoline sector causes 115,000 premature deaths annually, whereas the diesel sector causes 122,100. Gasoline can damage the nervous system and lungs. There is no evidence that exposure to gasoline causes cancer in humans. However, long-term exposure to high levels of benzene, a component of gasoline, may increase a person’s risk of leukemia.
6. Ocean Acidification
At least a quarter of the carbon dioxide emitted from fossil fuels is absorbed by the ocean, changing its chemistry (pH). The increased acidity makes it harder for marine organisms to build shells and coral skeletons. Over the last 150 years, ocean acidity has increased by 30 percent, posing threats to coral reefs, fishing, tourism, and the economy.
7. Extreme weather Events
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, climate change, brought upon by burning fossil fuels, is contributing to more frequent and severe extreme weather events that lead to disasters costing at least a billion dollars each.
The cost of extreme weather events, including wildfires, hurricanes, wind storms, flooding, and droughts, between 2016 and 2020 in the United States has been estimated at $606.9 billion. Overloading the earth’s atmosphere with carbon dioxide is causing warming land and ocean temperatures resulting in more severe storms, droughts, and other weather events.
In 2017 alone, these types of natural disasters cost the nation $306 billion. Moving away from gasoline-powered vehicles to clean alternatives is critical to the effort to avert catastrophic climate change.
8. Global Warming
The earth is gradually heating up as a result of the combustion of gasoline in the environment. Burning fossil fuels like gasoline and diesel release carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. The build-up of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases like methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are causing the Earth’s atmosphere to warm resulting in global warming.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from transportation account for about 27 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, making it the largest contributor to United States Greenhouse gas emissions. Between 1990 and 2020, greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector increased more in absolute terms than in any other sector.
9. Climate Change
The variation of the earth’s climate is majorly caused by greenhouse gases that have been built up in the atmosphere over time. When fossil fuel like gasoline is burnt in the environment it releases carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere.
The buildup of carbon dioxide(CO2) and other greenhouse gases like methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) is the cause of global warming, which results in changes to the climate we are already starting to see today.
Environmental Protection Agency is addressing climate change by taking actions to reduce Green House Gas emissions from the transportation sector. Many of these programs have benefits beyond cutting carbon. For example, decreasing fuel consumption, Setting greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars, trucks, and industries.
10. Sea Level Rise
Oceanic and atmospheric warming due to climate change is melting glaciers and land-based ice sheets, resulting in global sea level rise. Sea levels have risen about 9 inches since the late 1800s, causing more frequent flooding, destructive storm surges, and saltwater intrusion. With 40 percent of the U.S. population living along the coasts, it is estimated that defending coastal communities from sea level rise could cost $400 billion over the next 20 years
Global gasoline and diesel fuel impose substantial effects on air quality, human health, and the environment. Hence, the need to pay critical attention to the reduction in the emission into the environment. Governments and agencies of countries around the world should put into consideration policies and regulations guiding the use of gasoline-driven equipment.
Top 10 Effects of Gasoline on the Environment-FAQs
How does gasoline contribute to global warming?
During the combustion of gasoline, a large amount of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas is released into the atmosphere. This greenhouse gas traps heat in the atmosphere, causing global warming.
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Ahamefula Ascension is a Real Estate Consultant, Data Analyst, and Content writer. He is the founder of Hope Ablaze Foundation and a Graduate of Environmental Management in one of the prestigious colleges in the country. He is obsessed with Reading, Research and Writing.