Water pollution contributes to approximately 16 percent of all pollution incidents every year.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the most commonly reported type of water pollution is oil pollution. It severely impacts both humans and the environment. When oil enters bodies of water or soil, it harms animals, plants, and humans by contaminating groundwater. The contamination also results in destroying natural habitats and compromises the safety of drinking water.
A small amount of oil can lead to many problems. The way it spreads, even a slight amount can completely cover one acre of water surface.
Used oil may also come with additional hazardous properties. Engine oil, for instance, can be classified as a carcinogen. Therefore, oils must be stored and disposed of with great care.
What is used oil?
Used oil is what the name implies- any synthetic or petroleum-based oil. The EPA classifies used oil as any oil refined from synthetic or crude oil that has been used for an initial purpose. During regular use, impurities like chemicals, metal scrapings, dirt, or water get mixed with the oil, so it no longer performs well. The oil needs replacement with refined or virgin oil to do the job at hand. The used oil management standard set by the EPA includes a three-pronged approach that helps to determine if the substance meets the definition of used oil.
To meet the EPA’s definition of used oil, any substance needs to meet each of the following three criteria:
- Origin: used oil comes from refined crude oil or synthetic materials.
- Oils used as buoyant, heat transfer fluids, hydraulic fluids, lubricants, or other similar purposes are considered used. Unused oils like bottom clean-out waste from virgin fuel oil storage tanks or virgin fuel oil recovered from a spill do not meet the EPA’s definition of used oil because these oils have never been ‘used.’ The EPA’s definition also excludes products used as cleaning agents solely for their solvent properties, such as certain petroleum-derived products like kerosene and antifreeze.
- Contaminants: Used oil needs to be contaminated as a result of being used. This aspect of the EPA’s definition includes contaminants and residues generated from processing, storing, and handling used oil. Physical contaminants may also include dirt, sawdust, or metal shavings. Chemical contaminants could include saltwater, halogens, or solvents.
Sources and types of oily waste
In a domestic setting, the two types of used oil are engine oil for machine or vehicle maintenance and vegetable-based oil for cooking. While bakeries or restaurants will use cooking oil, workshops or garages will use engine oil. Industrial and commercial operations also use a wide range of oil products. For example, industrial machinery may require emulsified cutting oils, lubricants, or hydraulic fluid. Transformers also use specialist oils that contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a harmful toxin that persists in the environment.
Hazards associated with oily waste
Frequent or prolonged contact with oily waste or used oil can result in:
- Acute oral toxicity for ingestion. Oily waste is toxic if it consists of acute oral LD50less than 2,500 mg/kg.
- Acute dermal toxicity if it comes in contact with the skin. It may result in skin cancer and dermatitis, along with other types of skin disorders. Oily waste is considered toxic if it has an acute dermal LD50 less than 4,300mg/kg.
- Acute aquatic toxicity, especially for marine life. Oily waste is considered aquatically toxic if it has an acute oral LD50 less than 500 mg/kg.
- Carcinogenicity, if the oily waste contains one or more carcinogenic substances in concentrations. It could be greater than or equal to 0.0001 percent by weight.
Spillage is a significant risk. As a result, many companies that deal with oily waste must implement and develop an emergency pollution response plan for immediate actions to be taken in the event of a spill.
Proper disposal of oily waste
In the household, waste cooking oils of lesser quantity can be disposed of through municipal waste collection services. Lubricating oils used in maintaining vehicles need to be properly placed in a container with a secure lid and taken to your local household recycling site for safe disposal. Never pour the oils down the drain.It is simple to treat waste mineral oils and cooking oils to recover the valuable components or use them as fuel.
Commercial waste operations take their responsibility seriously when it comes to oily waste. They meet numerous legal requirements for storing, transporting, collecting, disposing, and recycling the oily waste they take in as a waste receiver.
When oil becomes waste
Waste oil is usually hazardous to both the natural environment and humansbecause the properties and chemical compositions of used oil changes, and it results in health hazards. It is crucial to ensure safer practices are in use while handling, storing, transporting, or disposing of oily waste.
How Clean Water Environmental recycles used oil
Clean Water Environmental adheres to the specific requirements by the EPA for used oil. We collect, and transport used oil and removes its Bottoms, Solids, and Water (BS&W). Our cost-effective, fuel-to-fuel recycling is environmentally preferable to consuming limited fossil fuel resources like No.2 fuel, coal, or gas. CWE also holds a Gasoline & Jet Fuel Reclamation/Reuse Exemption and helps customers with wastes that contain reclaimable products.