Biodegradation of Hydrocarbons in the Environment

  • Ronald M. Atlas
Part of the Basic Life Sciences book series (BLSC, volume 45)


Although most oil pollutants enter the environment as a result of chronic inputs associated with the extraction, production, transport, utilization, and disposal of this fossil fuel resource, most public concern occurs when there are large accidental oil spills, particularly if these pollute water supplies or recreational areas. Great public attention has been given to oil pollution of the seas, where several major tanker and offshore oil well accidents have released large amounts of oil into the marine environment, visibly contaminating beaches and seabirds. The absence of a “major” spillage in the past few years that could have contaminated recreational beaches, and the scientifically accepted recognition that oiled ecosystems recover as a result of natural processes that remove oil pollutants, have led to diminished public and scientific interest in the environmental fate of oil pollutants. Chronic sources of petroleum pollution, spillages that contaminate groundwater, and land disposal of oily sludges remain problems that may be mitigated by bioremediation and deserve continued study.


Mineral Nutrient Petroleum Hydrocarbon American Petroleum Institute Oily Sludge Hydrocarbon Biodegradation 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronald M. Atlas
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA

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