Environmental Remediation

What Are Hydrocarbon-Contaminated Soils & Why Do They Need to Be Treated?

Soil contamination by hydrocarbons has increased throughout the world due to rapid industrialization, population growth and disregard for environmental health. Hydrocarbons get released into the environment accidentally or as a result of human activities. They are extremely harmful as they belong to the family of carcinogens and neurotoxic organic pollutants. Environmental remediation or removal of pollutants and contaminants from our surroundings is extremely important to reduce the harmful effects. If contaminants have seeped into the soil under or around your facility, Arctic Backhoe Services can help you with environmental landfills, bioremediation and other environmental services across the Yukon and Northern B.C.

Examples of Commonly Used Hydrocarbons

Hydrocarbon compounds, as the name suggests, include hydrogen and carbon atoms. The bonds between the atoms are particularly strong resulting in compounds that are difficult to degrade. Here are some of the commonly used hydrocarbons:
  • Natural Gas and Fuels – Hydrocarbon molecules are naturally occurring fuel sources such as in crude oil and natural gas. Methane, propane and butane are gas hydrocarbons whereas crude oil, tar and bitumen are petroleum hydrocarbons. 
  • Plastics – Most of the plastic products we use in daily life are made from a long-chain of monomers. These are made from petrochemicals which are a type of hydrocarbon.
  • Paraffin – It is used for a variety of purposes in industries such as agriculture, medicine and cosmetics. It is used as fuel for tractors, jet engines and rockets.
  • Isopropyl alcohol – It is commonly used in the medical area.
  • Asphalt – You are likely familiar with this hydrocarbon as it is generally used to make roads.
  • Gasoline, kerosene and gasoline additives.
  • Fuel injection cleaners and carburetor cleaners.
  • Liquid furniture polish, wood oil and spot remover.
  • Cosmetic products such as nail enamel dryers and makeup removers.

What Is Hydrocarbon Contaminated Soil

Soil can be called contaminated when the concentration of hydrocarbon chemicals in the soil becomes higher than it should be naturally. There are various ways through which hydrocarbons can mix up with the soil:
  • Pesticides and herbicides used in farming
  • Direct discharge of waste water by industries into the soil
  • A leak in sewage systems or underground storage tanks
  • Oil and petroleum spills

Why Does It Need to Be Treated

The consequences of soil contamination pose grave impacts on human health as well as the ecosystem. The contaminants from the soil infiltrate the layers of underground water. The heavy metals subsequently enter the food web through plants. The contaminants end up in our system if we end up eating contaminated plants or meat of animals who would have consumed contaminated plants. 

Several techniques of remediation of contaminated soil have been developed including physical, chemical degradation and photo degradation. Biological treatment is considered the best as it utilizes the capability of indigenous microorganisms in the soil to break down the hydrocarbons into innocuous compounds.

Contact us for professional environmental remediation, general excavation and effective oil tank removal services.

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