Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Oil and Chemical Spills

Here are answers to questions that students, teachers, and others have asked us about topics related to our work with oil and chemical spills.

General Questions

Find answers to questions about: sources of spill information; precautions taken against spills; what's an oil spill; how fast oil spreads; spills in rivers; everyday spills compared to big ones; French-language information; oil spills and salt; and oil seepage rates into soil.

Oil Spills in History

Find answers to questions about: the Exxon Valdez spill; other oil spills; where spills happen; tankers vs. other spill sources; the biggest oil spill; the first U.S. oil spill; and getting information about a particular spill.

Responding to Oil Spills

Find answers to questions about: techniques and procedures; chemicals for cleanup; how long cleanup takes; how tools are being improved; high-pressure, hot-water washing; what's done for oiled animals; oiled whales; spills in rivers; preparing for a career in spill response; volunteering to help; reporting a spill; a spill in your neighborhood; and household products and spill response.

Dispersants and Bioremediation

Find answers to questions about: dispersants vs. bioremediation agents; how dispersants affect degradation; dispersant toxicity; getting dispersants for a school project; dispersant vs. detergent; and common dispersants and bioremedation agents.

How Oil Harms Fish and Wildlife

Find answers to questions about: how oil affects plants and animals; which type of oil is worst; finding oiled wildlife photos; the worst-affected creatures; and how fish are affected.

Science Fair Project Ideas

Find answers to questions about: using NOAA's photos; oil cleanup; testing absorbents; and more ideas for Science Fair experiments.