Oil Sands Environmental Impacts

Oil sands may have harmful effects on the atmosphere and human health, such as diluted bitumen. The destruction of forests and portions of the Athabasca River watershed culminated in the extraction of oil sands in Alberta, Canada. The risk of cancer, respiratory and neurological disorders may be increased with short-term exposure to diluted bitumen. The oil sands are a global problem. Unconventional oil sources, such as oil sands bitumen, play a more significant role in compensating for decreasing traditional supply as conventional sources of crude oil are exhausted. After Saudi Arabia, Canadian oil sands constitute the second biggest confirmed oil reserve. Below, you’ll hear about the environmental impacts of oil sands:

Most Canadian oil sands are in Alberta, 175 billion barrels of recoverable bitumen are found at the heart of the province, two an area roughly the size of Florida. The extraction of this non-conventional oil by surface or in situ (in place) boiling methods depends on the deposit’s depth. The mining of the bitumen is used closer to the body (less than 75 metres) and the in-situ extraction of the bitumen is done when it is more than 75 metres.3 

With the increase in the pace and scale of oil sands production, concern about the related effect on the environment has increased. Since the publication of its Oil Sands Fever study in 2005, the Pembina Institute has focused on these issues and provided factual details about the environmental impacts.

The full understanding of the costs and benefits of oil sands needs more than an appreciation of the scale of the resource and the financial rewards of its exploitation. It is essential to consider the environmental consequences and the context of the rising global need to reduce our global carbon footprint. The work of the Pembina Institute is intended to provide policymakers and others with an overview of the obstacles to achieve responsible development of the Alberta oil sands.

The effect of oil sands on the environment is an extremely contentious problem. As with the production and use of fossil fuel, the extraction, improvement and refining of bitumen from the oil sands have a detrimental impact on the climate. While some measures are being taken to minimize the seriousness of these effects – such as reclaiming – the atmosphere, air, water and other ecological effects continue to be linked. Since so many environmental impacts can be debated, some key topics have been divided between the primary concerns. You can see more ecological impacts on them:

Impacts on environment

Tailing ponds are settling ponds containing the by-product of the production and improvement of waste of oil sands. It consists of a mixture of water, sand, silt, mud, hydrocarbons exposed and other contaminants. 

Environment: greenhouse gas emissions are considerably higher than traditional crude oil in oil sands production and processing. Climate Impacts: These emissions aid global warming and the greenhouse effect. 

Water: The production of oil sands bitumen needs a significant quantity of water, and therefore the use of water is a problem in the extraction of oil sands. The water in oil sands can be recycled, but the natural cycle can be restored to only small quantities of this water.

Effect of air quality: Other pollutants are emitted into the air in oil sands activities in combination with greenhouse gases. They are environmental and human health contaminants and contain gasses such as NOx and SOx. 

Reclaiming: Reclaiming is the effort to restore the used soil to its natural condition – whether used for surface mining or in tailing ponds. The chemicals in the dressings will make recycling difficult.


The earth has been suffering from many detrimental effects which have been caused by environmental pollution, climate change, oil sands and many more. The impact of oil sands on the environment is a very heartening one to notice, and we should learn deeply about it and then come forward to eliminating this kind of harshness towards the ground.