MadSci Network: Environment

Re: What element in oil causes it to kill a plant?

Date: Mon Oct 23 20:40:50 2000
Posted By: Charles McClaugherty, Faculty, Environmental Science (Ecology), Mount Union College
Area of science: Environment
ID: 971222362.En

"Oil" contains many elements, but it is primarily Carbon and Hydrogen, which 
in and of themselves are not toxic.  Oil is "toxic" to some organisms 
because it can impede surface processes such as gas/air exchange. It may clog 
bird feathers and mammal hair, making it hard for them to function.  It can 
clog stomates on plants.  None of these are toxic in the normal sense of 
poisonous, but cause death by interfereing with physical processes.  In 
fact we use many oil based products for lotion on our skin.  After all, oil 
was derived from living organisms. 

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