What are the environmental effects of exposure to petroleum products?
When oil spills pollute surface waters such as streams or wetlands, individual surface waterways may be closed for travel, swimming, or fishing. Tourism and water recreation can be adversely affected. Oil spills can harm birds, frogs, reptiles, fish, waterfowl, and other animals by direct physical contact, toxic contamination, and destruction of food sources. Petroleum in lake bottoms and stream beds is very harmful because sediment traps the oil and affects the organisms that live in or feed off the sediments. On the surface of the water, water bugs that skim the water surface and floating plants are threatened by oil slicks that spread across the water surface. Shoreline habitats of lakes and reservoirs provide food sources and nesting grounds, which can be destroyed by oil spills.9