Oil and Metal Pollution

Course Description: 

Metals are major pollutants of all sectors of the environment while our demand for oil results in severe environmental impacts as pollution of the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 can attest.  The threat posed by mercury, cadmium and organotin compounds plus oil means that they are classed as Black/Red List or List 1 substances considered to be ‘the most dangerous due to their toxicity, persistence or bioaccumulation in the environment’.

The overall aim of the course is to provide an understanding of the sources, behaviour in the environment, fate and impact of trace metals and oil. Comparisons are made between these two groups of pollutants highlighting differences in environmental impact arising from their physical and chemical characteristics. A further aim of the course is to examine the efficacy and environmental impact of strategies and methods of preventing and/or remediating pollution by oil and metals. The course includes a series of case studies examining the impact of specific metal/oil pollutants and pollution incidents, and of the efficacy of prevention and remediation strategies.

Learning Outcomes: 

By the end of the course students should understand:

1. Sources of trace metal & oil pollution of water & land.

2. Characteristics & behaviour in water of oil and metals & how influences environmental impact

3. Impact of selected trace metals on land & water

4. Impact of oil on terrestrial, marine & freshwater ecosystems, fisheries & recreation

5.  The need and demand for metals and oil by modern society

6.  Efficacy of methods to reduce or prevent entry of trace metals & oil to the environment

7. An awareness of methods & environmental impact of removing trace metals or oil released to marine & freshwaters & decontamination of soil


Examination and assignment