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POLLUTION SOURCES FROM PETROCHEMIAL PLANTS AND THEIR IMPACTS ON AQUATIC ENVIRONMENT

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Abstract Petrochemicals plants are helping us by providing energy in the form of fuels in one side, in another side they are responsible for aquatic pollution. There are two basic sources of pollution from petrochemical plants. First, pollution resulting from leaks, accidents or spills which result in the discharge of oil (refined or crude) to water or land. Second, pollution leaks or accidents which result in the discharge of toxic chemicals to air or water. The discharge of chemicals like selenium and dioxins, the two most common hazardous pollutants from petrochemical plants, will impact human health and can cause birth defects, weight loss, cancer, nervous disorders. These chemicals are also known to affect shellfish and birds. Spilt oil may affect the structure of natural communities by tilting the balances which have established through long environmental processes. Oil slicks in water reduce the penetration of light, especially in closed water systems, and adversely affect regeneration of oxygen in the water. Deprived of oxygen, marine species die of asphyxiation. Additionally, the oil absorbs heat in the day and radiates the absorbed heat in the night. This results in significant day-night temperature fluctuations which is detrimental to marine life. Spilt oil generally forms a mousse-like blanket on the water surface and inhibits the movement, respiration and feeding of small animals. Oil contains hydrocarbons, and these hydrocarbons dissolve or are dispersed in water and can easily reach unprotected surfaces like delicate skin or fish gills. Oil which is emulsified by agitation at sea can also coat the gills of fish and cause suffocation and a loss of equilibrium. Other organisms such as barnacles and bivalves which feed on small

suspended particles may intake tiny oil droplets which enter the food chain. Mussels and clams have been observed to retain an oily taste for several months after oil exposure. Hydrocarbons also interfere with the cell structure of plants and can adversely affect its survival by restricting the passage of materials in and out of the cell. Seaweed's, like most plants and unlike most animals can suffer damage over a considerable area without losing their capacity to recover. Therefore any adverse effects of oil spills on seaweed's are only short-term. By adapting advanced eco-friendly technologies we can overcome the aquatic pollution problems. This paper deals with the different pollution sources of petrochemicals and their impacts on environment. Key words: petrochemicals, aquatic life, selenium, dioxins, oil spills Introduction The term petrochemicals are variously defined. In the broadest sense it is understood to mean chemical compounds or elements (e.g. sulphur) which are produced from petroleum or natural gas or which are entirely or partly derived from the hydrocarbons of petroleum or natural gas. According to this definition most of the products of organic chemistry and some inorganic products, such as ammonia which is produced from natural gas, are today termed petrochemicals. Petrochemicals are hydrocarbons, obtained from naturally occurring raw materials viz. petroleum, natural gas, coal etc. Coal was initially the basic raw material for organic chemical industry. However the basic feedstock has changed recently from coal to petroleum. This is attributed to the recent innovation and technological advance in the field of chemical industry based on petroleum feedstock. The handling and processing cost of petroleum based raw materials to down-stream products are cheaper than that of based on coal even though the cost of coal is cheaper than the petroleum based feedstock. The emergence of downstream petrochemical products manufacturing industries (popularly called synthetic organic chemicals manufacturing industries) like high polymers, synthetic fibers, plastic and plasticizers, synthetic rubbers, pesticides, carbon black, detergents, fertilisers and other similar products are outcome of the technological developments in the field of chemicals based on petroleum feedstock. These feedstocks can either be cracked (in cracker complexes) to produce olefins or reformed (in aromatic complexes) to produce

aromatics. These olefins and aromatics are grouped together as basic petrochemicals and form the major building blocks. Some of the organic primary chemicals which are produced on a petrochemical basis in chemical plants are Ethylene, propylene, butadiene, butylenes, acetylene, methanol, formaldehyde, carbon tetrachloride, acetaldehyde, acetic acid, ethylene oxide, ethylene glycol, vinyl chloride, vinyl acetate, styrene, acrylonitrile, Isopropanol, acetone, polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chlorides, polyvinyl acetate, polystyrene etc. Impacts on the aquatic environment: Petrochemicals plants are helping us by providing energy in the form of fuels in one side, in another side they are responsible for aquatic pollution. There are two basic sources of pollution from petrochemical plants. First, pollution resulting from leaks, accidents or spills which result in the discharge of oil (refined or crude) to water or land. Second, pollution leaks or accidents which result in the discharge of toxic chemicals to air or water. Once the toxic substance comes in contact with water ,the quality or characteristic of water changes. The impacts of petrochemical effluents on the aquatic environment bring changes in following physical, chemical or biological characteristics of water. Changes in Physical Characteristics of water: The water by nature is transparent, liquid colourless, odourless and tasteless media. Once it comes with contact with the petrochemicals, it looses its natural colour, odour and taste. Oil slicks in water reduce the penetration of light, especially in closed water systems, and adversely affect regeneration of oxygen in the water.Intern which result in the formation of thick layer of petrochemical wastes on the surface of water. The exchanges of gases, temperature and light wont takes place. Which leads to interruption of photosynthetic process of aquatic plants. And a sort of darkness will appear in the below the thick layer, which may be not good for aquatic animals (e.g Fishes etc) movement. Changes in Chemical Characteristics of water: Chemically the water is a compound with the hydrogen and oxygen. These petrochemical when mixes with water form fowl

smell and cause the problems related to rancidity. Petrochemicals contaminate the groundwater from underground petroleum storage tanks. Benzene and other petrochemicals can cause cancer even at low exposure levels. Petrochemical Industrial involves the use of many different chemicals that can run-off into water and pollute it. Changes in Biological Characteristics of water: Life on this earth started in water only. There is no life without water. Hence we can say where there is water, there is life. If the water is polluted by means of Petrochemical discharge or petrochemical, it will definitely influence over the biological characteristics of water. These chemicals are also known to affect shellfish and birds. Deprived of oxygen, marine species die of asphyxiation. Spilt oil may affect the structure of natural communities by tilting the balances which have established through long environmental processes. Additionally, the oil absorbs heat in the day and radiates the absorbed heat in the night. This results in significant day-night temperature fluctuations which is detrimental to marine life. Spilt oil generally forms a mousse-like blanket on the water surface and inhibits the movement, respiration and feeding of small animals. Oil contains hydrocarbons, and these hydrocarbons dissolve or are dispersed in water and can easily reach unprotected surfaces like delicate skin or fish gills. Oil which is emulsified by agitation at sea can also coat the gills of fish and cause suffocation and a loss of equilibrium. Other organisms such as barnacles and bivalves which feed on small suspended particles may intake tiny oil droplets which enter the food chain. Mussels and clams have been observed to retain an oily taste for several months after oil exposure. Hydrocarbons also interfere with the cell structure of plants and can adversely affect its survival by restricting the passage of materials in and out of the cell. Seaweed's, like most plants and unlike most animals can suffer damage over a considerable area without losing their capacity to recover. Therefore any adverse effects of oil spills on seaweed's are only short-term. Metals and solvents from petrochemical industrial work can pollute rivers and lakes. These are poisonous to many forms of aquatic life and may slow their development, make them infertile or even result in death. Petroleum is another form of chemical pollutant that usually contaminates water through oil spills when a ship ruptures. Oil spills usually have only a localised affect on wildlife

but can spread for miles. The oil can cause the death of many fish and stick to the feathers of seabirds causing them to lose the ability to fly. Impacts on the human health: The discharge of chemicals like selenium and dioxins, the two most common hazardous pollutants from petrochemical plants, will impact only the aquatic environment by effecting growth and physiological processes, but also effects human health and can cause birth defects, weight loss, cancer, nervous disorders through bioaccumulations, biomagnifications bioconcentrations etc. Summary: Petrochemicals are hydrocarbons, obtained from naturally occurring raw materials viz. petroleum, natural gas, coal etc. Coal was initially the basic raw material for organic chemical industry. However the basic feedstock has changed recently from coal to petroleum. Petrochemicals plants are helping us by providing energy in the form of fuels in one side; in another side they are responsible for aquatic pollution. Advanced and ecofriendly technological approach should be adapted to over come the pollution from petrochemicals and its possible impacts on water, plants, animals and we human beings. Strict law and order should be maintained in the water transportation sector, as that we check the oil spill problems. Industrialists, public, government and non government organisations along with media plays a vital role in sustainable and wise use of petrochemicals and intern which result in to a sustainable and healthy environment. Reference: E. Dnges and J. SchUcker. Chem.-Ing.-Techn. 37, 498 (1965). H.G. Janson. Chern.-Ing.-Techn. 39, 729 (1967). H. Engeiharcit and W. Haltrich. Chem.-Ing.-Techn. 40, 275 (1968). K. J. Bock and W. Lukaschek. Chem.-Ing.-Techn. 40, 284 (1968).