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Nathan Richmond


Effects of diesel on the natural environment.

Diesel, as a fuel form, is used by millions of people today. It is used for its
burning capabilities, and constant combustion temperature. It has
applications in transport, farm equipment, major businesses, and
electrical generation, however, it is having many bad side effects on the
environment and human health. This could be due to the chemical makeup, emissions from vehicles, or the sourcing of its components from the

Diesel, as a chemical, does not have a set formula, but

rather, a mixture of different compounds and
chemicals. However, it is mainly made out of stable
molecules such as C12H22, C13H24 and C12H24. It is
sometimes described as having an average chemical
Figure 1: Diagram of
composition of C12H23, otherwise known as;
Cyclododecyl, but seeing as it is made from a number Image Credit: [LookChem
of different compounds, cannot have a proper single 2008]
Diesel is not sourced directly as pure diesel, but is refined from crude oil.
This, has been known to provide some of the most environmentally
harming, man-made disasters in human history. When an oil storage unit
spills a large amount of crude oil, such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
of 2010, a film of crude oil, covered the
surface of the water, and spread below the
surface. This affected marine ecosystems
around the Gulf of Mexico through
suffocation and poisoning; of coral, fish,
birds, and marine animals. In the
immediate aftermath of the Deepwater
Horizon oil spill, concerns about public
health focused on people coming into
Figure 2: Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill:
Crude Oil on the Surface of the Ocean direct
dispersants. [Ocean Portal Team 2012]
Image Credit: Smithsonian; National
Crude oil consists of many different length
museum for marine history.
chains of hydrocarbons, and can have
health effects on humans, it can cause long-term disease, and mental
health problems.

Due to the mixture nature of diesel, the products of burning it, are varied,
and can have health effects on mammals, and humans alike. Because the
burning of diesel is an incomplete combustion, the products are not just

Nathan Richmond


CO2 and H2O, but range from nitrogen oxides (NO x) to CO (Carbon
Monoxide) and whole hydrocarbons. These, sometime unstable chemicals
are cause for concern about health. These fall under the title of
particulate matter, which can also include dust, water, and other
microscopic particles. Particulate matter can travel deep into the lungs
where it can aggravate asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and
other lung conditions. Our respiratory system filters out larger particles,
but smaller particles get trapped in the lungs, while the smallest are so
tiny they pass through the lungs into the blood stream. [Department of
the environment Maryland (USA) 2010] These exhaust fumes, are
clearly dangerous, not only for humans but animals as well.

So; be it from sourcing, exhaust fumes, chemical properties, or just its

poisonous nature, the effects of diesel on humans and the natural
environment are toxic, and are even destroying entire ecosystems. Diesel
fuel is very popular, so these problems can be fixed by something as little
as not using diesel.

500 Words

Ocean Portal | Smithsonian. (2012). Gulf Oil Spill. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Sep. 2016]. (2016). C12H23. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16
Sep. 2016].
Maryland Department of the Environment. (2010). Diesel Emissions Health
and Environmental Effects. [online] Available at:
formation/HealthandEnvironmentalEffects/Pages/index.aspx [Accessed 17
Sep. 2016]