Used cooking oil is oil that has been used for cooking in the home, or by restaurants, industrial kitchens, and food manufacturers. Re-using this type of oil can have disastrous effects on our health. For instance, re-using cooking oil can lead to an elevated risk for heart disease, liver disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and stroke. The elevated risk is brought about by the HNE compound, which accumulates over time in the used cooking oil. When the oil containing this compound is consumed, the compound reacts with the biomolecules inside our bodies leading to these chronic diseases.
In order to mitigate these health risks, individuals are advised against consuming used cooking oil in their homes, and to avoid eating fried food whenever they eat out.
Used cooking oil should be disposed of immediately in order to avoid passing on potential health risks to clients. Unfortunately, most homes and businesses are unaware of how to properly dispose of the waste vegetable oil, and how this has negative repercussions on the environment. Poor disposal methods include pouring this oil down the sink, into the garbage, or onto the street.
The improper disposal of this oil poses a serious risk to the environment in numerous ways. These ways include:
- Risk to marine life forms
Most drainage systems lead to a water source such as a pond, river, lake, ocean, or stream, which all have various life forms surviving in them. When waste vegetable oil is disposed of improperly by, for instance, pouring down the drain, it will eventually find its way into a water source. This oil will coat the surface of the water, blocking the free flow of oxygen into the water, thereby suffocating the fish and plant life.
- Risk to Bird Life
In addition, the oil can coat the feathers of the birds that use the water as a feeding ground. When this happens, the birds will be unable to fly as fast, or even at all, which will greatly hamper their ability to look for food and flee from predators. The oily feathers will also make it difficult for the birds to keep warm, which exposes them to a myriad of respiratory and cold-related issues.
Another major hazard of improperly disposal of Used cooking oil is soil logging. When this oil is disposed of in drains, and sewers, it has the potential of covering or coating any soil it comes across. The oil will cut off any air supply to the living organisms that are within the soil. The productivity of such soil will also reduce drastically, and when this happens on a large scale, the agricultural potential and output of an area can be severely diminished.
The plants that manage to grow on such soil will most likely have a low nutritional profile, and might be contaminated. When humans and animals consume these vegetables, diseases are likely to occur owing to this contamination.
- Water contamination
Most of our waters are heavily polluted, and one of the main pollutants is oil, mainly from industrial activities and cooking. As mentioned above, oil-contaminated water is disastrous for all marine life. However, even humans face a myriad of risks owing to this contamination. Consumption of this water in direct drinking, or using it for cooking and washing exposes us to several severe health-compromising compounds and bacteria. Such situations translate into a sicker population, which further burdens the already-strained health resources in a country.
The government of the affected nation will have to put more resources into taking care of the sick instead of into development projects thereby impoverishing the nation further.
Furthermore, a sicker population will result in lower labour productivity, and lead to an economic downturn.