It has been estimated that each year over 180 million gallons of used oil is disposed of improperly (Alameda CCWP, 1992) and that a single quart of motor oil can pollute 250,000 gallons of drinking water. For this reason, automotive maintenance facilities are highly regulated with respect to discharges to storm and sanitary sewer systems. Fluid spills and improper disposal of materials result in pollutants, heavy metals and toxic materials entering ground and surface water supplies, creating public health and environmental risks. Alteration of practices involving the cleanup and storage of automotive fluids and cleaning of vehicle parts can help reduce the influence of automotive maintenance practices on stormwater runoff and local water supplies (Purdue Research Foundation, 1996).
Keeping your vehicles in good repair helps prevent exhaust emissions from adding to air pollution, and can prevent automotive fluids from leaking onto the streets. When it does rain, stormwater flows down the street and picks up any automotive fluids on the street. This stormwater then enters storm drains and is deposited in local parks, basins, sinkholes, and lakes. Many small oil leaks and spills add up to a significant problem.
Oil and Other Auto Fluid Changes
If you change your own motor oil and other automotive fluids, clean up every accidental spill. Any fluid left on the pavement will get washed down our driveways and streets, and into the stormwater system the next time it rains.
- Follow Best Management Practices for used motor oil and automotive fluids:
- Use a drip pan when changing motor oil and all other automotive fluids.
- Take all used oil to a used oil recycling facility. Many auto parts stores offer oil recycling services.
- Save used oil and other used automotive fluids and dispose of them at a household hazardous waste collection event in your community.
- Fix leaks as soon as possible.
- All major vehicle maintenance and repair should be performed at a licensed and environmentally responsible auto repair facility.
- Use commercial products designed to absorb automotive fluids or use old towels, kitty litter or sand. Sweep up used absorbent materials immediately.
- Take all contaminated towels and absorbents to a household hazardous waste event in your community.