Curiosity Unleashed: Do Gas Stations Cause Soil Pollution? Find Out | Kidadl


Curiosity Unleashed: Do Gas Stations Cause Soil Pollution? Find Out

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While most of us are somewhat aware of the different kinds of pollution and its sources, very few know about gas stations' hazards to the natural ecosystem.

With the growing dependency on fuel-based automobiles throughout the world, gas stations have attained the status of prime importance. You might see them all neat and clean, but they too are responsible for soil pollution that we barely notice.

Gas stations have numerous underground pipes supplying different fuels for different vehicles. Due to regular wear and tear and pressure built up, these pipes may leak, releasing toxic fuels into the soil. While most gas stations may be spotless with top-notch maintenance, they can also contribute to underlying soil pollution.

These fuels' toxic fumes may choke the organisms above and below the soil cover. Gas stations are also responsible for air pollution, along with soil contamination. These contaminants alter the soil pH, making it either alkaline or acidic, which triggers the gradual infertility of the soil.

Want to know more about gas station soil contamination? Read on to find out insightful details about all the harmful effects.

You can also check out some fun and interesting facts about do glow sticks have glass in them and do golf balls float here at Kidadl.

The Composition Of Gas

All gas stations have an underground fuel storage tank (UFST) that store all kinds of fuel used by different vehicles.

The most important fuel source in all gas stations is gasoline. Although it is an oil, gasoline contains volatile organic compounds (VOC), total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPHs), and other toxic fumes. To increase the octane content in gasoline, a compound called methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MBTE), and tertiary butyl alcohol (TBA) is present for increased combustion. The key toxic components of gasoline that produce toxic fumes include Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, and Xylenes (BTEX). These chemical components emit fumes that can choke the soil microbes or tamper with the soil pH.

The Effect Of Gas Burning On The Environment

The effect of vehicular fossil fuel burning is a matter of global concern.

The environment is facing the grave consequences of vehicular gas combustion. With air pollution topping the list of ill-effects of fuel burning, soil contamination comes second. The older and abandoned gas stations cause more significant problems to the environment. The underground gas tanks get rusted and spill the fuel below the topsoil, spreading it to a large extent, often reaching up to groundwater, leaching the toxic chemicals into it.

The volatile fumes emitted by these gases choke the fauna and degrade soil fertility. Gas burning causes massive air pollution, and too much exposure to it can choke humans and animals alike, along with the growth of several diseases. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are increasing global warming, bringing in severe disruptions worldwide.

Sometimes handling these flammable substances at the gas station can also lead to massive fire outbursts, causing tremendous damage to life and property and severe air pollution. Even without the burning of the gasoline-containing VOCs, if they get leaked into the soils, they transform from a gaseous to aqueous state, settling in the tiny pores of soil and diminishing the soil's aeration.

Everyone should know about these hazards of gas station contamination.

Pollutants Of The Gas Station

Some key chemical pollutants have been identified from the collection of several soil samples at various gas station sites.

The VOC and TPH parameters are used to test soil samples for subsurface contamination of the soil under gas stations. The contaminated land hinders the healthy growth of plants by changing the pH values of the soils. The main chemicals that cause soil pollution from gas tanks are VOCs like tribromomethane, methylene chloride, chlorobenzene, and toluene.

The TPH levels in the soils indicate clear signs of soil pollution contaminating up to 3.3-19.7 in (1-6 m) under the topmost layer. At many places, there were instances of soil samples contaminated with gasoline and related chemicals that mixed with groundwater and even entered the drinking water, making people fall sick.

Which fuel causes the least pollution?

While gasoline is the most polluting energy source, natural gas has been proved to be the least harmful. Compared to other fuels, LPG or propane gas is relatively safe for the environment. It does not cause soil pollution.

Natural gas is supplied in the form of Compressed Natural Gas at the gas station. It is believed that soil or groundwater contamination by underground tanks carrying natural gas is least, compared to gasoline and LPG. Being a hydrocarbon, natural gas is composed of methane and oxygen molecules that aids and speed up its combustion.

While it is comparatively costly than gasoline, but the intensity of pollution and soil contamination at or near a gas station is almost negligible. Natural gas is considered the cleanest of all fuels as its combustion generates only carbon dioxide and water vapor in the form of steam.

Did you know?

The process through which geologists test soil samples for underground soil pollution at gas stations is called Gas Station Soil Contamination Testing.

Governmental norms are laid down to limit and alter any leakage or polluting activities at gas stations.

After a gas station is decommissioned, the underground soil is tested for VOC and TPH contamination before new construction can start at its place.

Phase-wise testing is conducted for environmental assessment of the gas station site in a process known as remediation. It is done in two phases: the first phase marks the general investigation of subsurface contamination if any, and the second phase finds the probable leakages and contamination by gasoline or diesel. These remediation measures help correctly identify and clean the contaminated soil under gas stations.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created many interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 'Curiosity Unleashed: do gas stations cause soil pollution? Find out' then why not take a look at '21 unheard airport facts that will make you take off!' or '21 Amazing Ajanta Caves facts on this famous World Heritage Site'.

Written By
Srija Chanda

<p>An aspiring media professional, Srija is currently pursuing her Master's degree in Mass Communication at St. Xavier's University, Kolkata, after completing her degree in journalism. With experience in PR and social media, she has also honed her leadership skills through her participation in a youth parliament. Srija's interests include devouring books, watching movies, and exploring new places through travel.</p>

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