The industry is filled with products that are made from petroleum and hydrocarbon raw materials. Petroleum serves as a huge source of chemical compounds and products. The raw materials of petrochemicals are classified into two, which are olefins and aromatics. Olefins include propylene and ethylene, while aromatics include xylene isomers and benzene. The two classifications of petrochemicals are manufactured in very huge volumes. These chemical compounds are produced into a vast range of products and chemicals that are widely used in industries and in households. Among the most common are solvents, monomers, adhesives, detergents, fibers, plastics, resins, gels, some lubricants, and elastomers.
The global manufacture of ethylene reached an estimated 110 million tons, with propylene at 65 million tons, and aromatic raw products at 70 million tons each year. The biggest industries of petrochemicals are found within Western Europe and the United States. On the other hand, there is a huge production capacity growth within Asia and Middle East. The inter-regional marketing of different petrochemical products is substantial.
Although petrochemicals are very beneficial, especially in households, they contaminate water supply. This happens when the chemicals leak from storage tanks that are found underground. In 1996, Santa Monica, California is compelled to close a large section of its supply of drinking water because of MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether) contamination. This gasoline additive was detected at a level of 600 parts for each billion within the water supply of Santa Monica. This is a huge difference from the safe limit (35 parts for each billion), which has been placed by the Environmental Protection Agency of California. The MTBE contamination is blamed on underground gasoline tank leaks that are near wells. These wells provide most of the water supply for the city.
When MTBE is dissolved in the water for very long, the chemical particles may attach to the water particles. Eventually, it will settle on the water supply’s bottom sediment. According to studies done on rats, MTBE is discovered to be a carcinogen. The studies further suggest that drinking water contaminated with MTBE can lead to kidney and liver damage, gastrointestinal irritation, and damage to the nervous system. Benzene, which is commonly utilized within industries, can possibly end up within the water supplies. A water research foundation in England performed a study and discovered that there are several contamination incidents, which involved trichloroethene, tetrachloroethene, and benzene. The period span of these incidents was from 1956 to 1994 within 6 different countries all over the world.
Long term constant exposure to petrochemicals can lead to cancer and hematological problems. This implies that the bone marrow of individuals who are always exposed to petrochemical compounds may be affected. The symptoms and signs for this health problem include deficiencies to the immune system, excessive bleeding, and anemia. It is suggested that products, which contain hydrocarbons, can lead to symptoms that are linked with sensitivity to multiple chemicals that increase brain activity. The symptoms to this problem may be associated with dysfunctions to the autonomic part of the nervous system. This means that there is a sensitization to the brain’s limbic system.