Environmental concerns on hydrocarbon spills.

There is a particular concern for Canada, where any hydrocarbon leaks from oil and gas fields, transportation tankers, and pipelines have a considerable impact on the future of the energy industry. The economy of Alberta, like the other western Canadian province, Saskatchewan, is largely reliant on pipelines transporting billions of gallons of fluid hydrocarbons to their neighbor provinces, coastlines, and south into the United States. Even a trivial incident of leaks and hydrocarbon release severely affects the environment through water contamination, degrading soil quality, and destroying wildlife habitat. Supplemented diluent and other light components from pipelines are volatile organic compounds that can reduce air quality. In other words, the sustainability of the environment is vulnerable to oil leaks. Moreover, many pipelines pass through indigenous communities in Canada, which can impact traditional Indigenous livelihoods.

The organic compounds of leaked hydrocarbons can be directly absorbed through the skin, respiratory system, and ingestion. Depending on the volume of contamination, these chemicals can cause different health and reproductive disorders and eventually mortality. Microorganisms are more susceptible to the discharged organic compounds, which ultimately can disrupt the food chain of the surrounding ecosystem. Therefore, bigger creatures can be indirectly affected through either scarcity of essential foods delivered by the lower level of the chain or accumulated concentrations of oil components in their tissues. Thus, to minimize the adverse effects of oil spills on the environment, it is critical to monitor pipelines for any leak incident. Our technology offers a rapid and sensitive detection system that can enhance the effectiveness of the practices to limit oil discharge.