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The Threat of Hydrocarbons on our Environment

The Threat of Hydrocarbons on our Environment

Hydrocarbons are organic compounds that consist solely of hydrogen and carbon. We have read about hydrocarbons in our high school textbooks and later in life, but little did we know they pose a severe threat to our environment.

Hydrocarbons are organic compounds that consist solely of hydrogen and carbon. We have read about hydrocarbons in our high school textbooks and later in life, but little did we know they pose a severe threat to our environment. Hydrocarbon pollution is on the rise, primarily due to its toxicity. Unburned hydrocarbons deposit heavy metals concentration in the soil, affecting the ecosystem.

Increasing accumulation of metals poses a challenge to bioremediate because heavy metals restrict microbes from breaking down the hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons are present in petroleum products and can be lethal depending on the nature of the fraction, way of exposing it, and the time of exposure. They account for severe damage to the human body, including the nervous system, respiratory system, circulatory system, reproductive system, liver, kidney, etc.

This is a cause of serious worry because hydrocarbon usage is widespread in our lives now. We should focus more on reducing the emission of unburnt hydrocarbons to our environment. As an immediate step, we should take strict measures to maintain the appropriate fuel mixing ratio in the car engines to ensure complete combustion. In a study in the Indian subcontinent, during the COVID-19 nationwide lockdown, scientists have quantified the optimum level of total petroleum hydrocarbon content (~2.02µg ) in the water body of Chilika Lake, in the absence of anthropogenic emissions.

Thus, we should be alarmed in the future if the levels rise above the optimum level. More of this quantification work should be carried out extensively to put ourselves on the watch clock and reduce emissions. We should focus on shifting to greener technology and increasing the usage of green fuels.

We are definitely running out of time, given the changing climate. Thus, we should advocate changes in our conventional practices of inadvertently emitting hydrocarbons to our environment. They not only limit their toxicity to the soil but leak into the air and water and pose a threat to living organisms.

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