Motor Oil & the Environment
Motor Oil and the Environment
If you've chosen to replace the oil in your vehicle yourself, you've also accepted the responsibility to properly dispose of the resulting waste. Exposure to used motor oil not only poses a danger to your health, but it's also a hazard to the environment. It is illegal to dump used motor oil into garbage bins, down kitchen sinks and storm drains, and into sewers and rivers. Pouring it on the ground is not only illegal - it's probably the worst thing you can do!
The used oil from a single oil change may look as harmless as dirty dishwater, but nothing could be further from the truth. A single gallon of used oil can contaminate a million gallons of fresh water, an amount equal to a year's supply of drinking water for 50 people. Even as little as a single pint of oil can create an oil slick the size of a football field! Once you realize how little it takes to cause widespread contamination, it's easy to see that you must properly dispose of this extremely hazardous and highly common waste. Dumping oil in sewers is NOT an option; sewers lead to waste treatment plants, which will have a difficult - not to mention expensive - time removing the oil from water intended for humans. Dump the oil on the ground and eventually it will find it's way to sewer grates, and from there to the waste treatment plant. Storm drains lead to streams, rivers and lakes in our communities, potentially poisoning these waters for fish and other wildlife - not to mention pets and the occasional human bather. And yet, each year in the U.S. alone, we throw out more than 20 times as much oil as was spilled by the infamous Exxon Valdez.
Which brings us to the good news and the bad news. The good news is that used oil and even oil filters are easy to recycle. Used oil can be recycled into different types of fuel and lubricants, conserving the Earth's precious petroleum resources while at the same time protecting our environment. The bad news is that it's sometimes difficult to find a place that will accept your used motor oil and transport it to a recycling facility. While many service stations and inspection facilities accept used oil from consumers, many don't, and sometimes it is very difficult to find one in your area.
This problem presents us with the nightmare scenario of a nation of "do-it-yourself" car owners changing their own oil and having nowhere to put it, leaving millions of gallons of used motor oil to go who knows where. Fortunately, the American Petroleum Institute (API) has come to the rescue with the launch of their new website, www.recycleoil.org. This helpful resource provides information on how and where to properly dispose of your used motor oil and other hazardous waste materials in your area. Visit the site to gain a fuller understanding of the harmful environmental effects of oil dumping, the many uses for recycled oil products and to search for a used-oil collection facility near your home.