Guidance for the Environmental Public Health Management of Crude Oil Incidents

From Health Canada


This guidance document aims to support environmental public health and emergency management practitioners to plan and prepare for population health risks resulting from major crude oil incidents.

It provides basic information on crude oil, its hazards, and its potential effects on health. The focus is primarily on acute exposure resulting from major incidents of public health concern.

Who this guide is for

  1. Environmental public health practitioners
  2. Emergency management practitioners

In this guide

1. Identification and Hazard Summary

  • 1.1. What is crude oil and what are its commonly used identifiers?
  • 1.2. What are the physical properties of crude oil?
  • 1.3. What is the flammability and reactivity of crude oil?
  • 1.4. How are crude oil products and their hazards identified on shipping and storage containers?
  • 1.5. What is the life cycle of crude oil?
  • 1.6. Where is crude oil produced?
  • 1.7. What is crude oil used for?
  • 1.8. How is crude oil transported?
  • 1.9. What happens when crude oil is released into the environment?

2. Exposure and Health Effects Considerations

  • 2.1. Which constituents of crude oil may present a risk to human health?
  • 2.2. What are the pathways of exposure?
  • 2.3. What are the potential health effects resulting from major crude oil incidents?
  • 2.4. Which populations are of particular concern in the aftermath of a crude oil spill?
  • 2.5. What are the health protection standards and guidelines for assessing the health risk from crude oil exposure?

3. Public Health Risk Management

  • 3.1. What activities can public health practitioners undertake to better prepare their community for the risk of a crude oil release?
  • 3.2. What actions should be taken if a sudden major crude oil release occurs?
  • 3.3. What actions could support recovery?

4. Case Studies

  • 4.1. Case Study (rail incident): Lac-Mégantic derailment, 6 July 2013
  • 4.2. Case Study (pipeline incident): Marshall, MI, pipeline spill, 25 July, 2010
  • 4.3. Case Study (marine oil spill): Grounding of the Nathan E. Stewart, Seaforth Channel, October 2016
  • 4.4. Case Study (marine oil spill): Marathassa Incident, April 2015

View complete guide

Details and history

Published: August, 2018

Part of topic(s): Guidance on environmental contaminants

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