If you discover you’ve had an oil spill the greatest concern should be your personal well-being, particularly if the spill has occurred indoors or the effects of an outdoor spill are detectable within your property. The health implications and fire risk cannot be underestimated. Heating oil contains many substances of varying toxicity. The safest option is to remove yourself from the area or property and contact a specialist, or the fire service if the potential for fire is present.
A specialist like ourselves can attend site quickly, assess the potential of health risks, provide fans for ventilation, deploy absorbents, advise on what to do next and undertake an initial clean-up.
Regarding your health, brief exposure to fuel oil will not usually cause long-term harm. Inhaling vapours in an enclosed area can result in short term symptoms, headaches, dizziness, nausea, eye, throat and nose irritations. Fresh air can help to relieve these symptoms. Be aware though you can quickly become accustomed to the smell of oil and ultimately a false sense of the problem alleviating. If symptoms persist once away from the source it is advisable to see a doctor.
Very long-term exposure or high concentrations of vapours within an enclosed space have the potential for more serious health problems. These include liver and kidney damage, increased blood pressure, other blood problems, and cancer. Quite simply if you can smell oil you have been exposed and there is a potential risk.
Exposure can affect people differently. Young children and elderly people will be more susceptible to lower concentrations of vapour. You should always consider moving out of a property after discovering a spill and during the clean-up phase. Try to avoid direct skin contact with oil. If it does occur thoroughly clean the area with soap and water.
An outdoor spill has the potential to contaminate your water supply. The oil can penetrate the plastic of water mains pipes and taint the water, consuming the water becomes a serious health risk.
Don’t forget, your pets can be affected too!
As always if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us, we like to talk, 0800 0209 307 or drop us an e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org
Guide to oil spill preparedness and response
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