What Happens When Oil Contaminates Soil?

Tuesday 21st February 2023

Ellen Warren

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Person holding soil CONTENTS

Spilled oil is not only a health hazard, but it could also lead to yourself or someone else being fined for causing pollution which is against the law. Any oil contamination in soil is dangerous for both the wildlife and environment, and can take months to naturally decompose.

At ICE Cleaning, we provide oil spill cleaning services that include soil remediation. Our professional and rapid solutions commit to remove oil from polluted soil and restore your local environment. In an emergency, we can be on site within a matter of hours to tackle the oil spill.

Read on to find out more about what happens when oil contaminates your soil.

The importance of keeping soil clean

Soil is a combination of water, minerals, and various organic lifeforms. It is a crucial part of our planets ecosystem, and provides a service for not only humans but the local wildlife in your area.

It naturally protects us from floods and tackles drought. Most importantly, it grows our food and purifies our water, and therefore must be clean and free of any substances like oil.

Sometimes human activities lead to an incident where soil may become polluted. In specific areas, the risk of soil contamination is much higher and can occur in:

  • Industrial sites
  • Landfills or waste disposal sites
  • Domestic areas
  • Former farmlands

How oil contaminates soil

Oil is one the UK's biggest polluters, with oil spill incidents leading to polluted water, soils, and danger to local wildlife. Although we tend to think about the commercial or industrial oil spills, it can still happen on your domestic property.

These may occur if you have a heating oil tank or a vehicle. Either of these can become damaged over time, which could lead to oil leaks and the subsequent contamination of your local soil.

Heating oil is especially dangerous to local soil, and remains in it for up to 30 years. It could further be carried elsewhere through the water in the soil, further contaminating the area.

The effects of oil spills in local soil

When oil pollutes the soil, it can have a serious impact on the environment, such as:

  • Reduced soil aeration
  • Reduced water infiltration
  • Increased bulk density
  • Killing plant growth
  • Harm local wildlife
  • Restrict soil permeability

Polluted soils are capable of impacting your health, too. It can produce small airborne particles that cause physical or chemical damage to the human body. These oils could possibly also be absorbed through the skin, causing blisters, or peeling skin.

The dangers of cleaning oil by yourself

Once oil is spilled, toxic chemicals are bound to be released which are harmful to both humans and animals in the affected area. Land contamination may further pose a risk to any locally grown foods or water.

By trying to tackle any local oil spill yourself, you could come in closer contact with the oil and expose yourself to many health risks both short-term and long-term. These can include:

  • Memory loss and confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Skin injuries
  • An increased cancer risk
  • Organ problems
  • Decreased immunity

In the event of an oil spill, do not attempt to clean it up yourself. You must contact an oil spill damage cleaning company right away, instead. They will quickly contain the spill at the source and prevent further contamination of soil. Once it is stopped, they take steps to remove all traces from the soil.

What to do when oil spills

Whenever you have an oil spill in your home, there are a few steps you can take to protect yourself before calling for help:

  • Ventilate the area by opening doors and windows
  • Keep children and pets away from the affected area
  • Avoid getting oil on your skin or clothing
  • Wash your hands if you have oil on them
  • Do not smoke, eat , or drink if you have made contact with oil
  • Contact an oil spillage cleaning company as soon as possible

Get in touch

At ICE Cleaning, our technicians are recognised by CSCS, IOSH and Safe Contractor. They have access to industry-leading technology that commit to remediate soil and clean oil spills quickly. Our priority is the safety of all parties, and we can advise you on what to do in the event you are uncertain.

Our technicians are available 24/7, 365 days a year. Call us on 0208 066 0360 or email us at enquiries@icecleaning.co.uk to book our oil spill damage cleaning services.

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Zoe Dunning

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