Sunday, July 4, 2010

Can it rain oily compounds in the Gulf of Mexico? Yes! Chris Landau geologist & meteorologist

Can it rain oily compounds in the Gulf of Mexico? Yes! Chris Landau geologist & meteorologist

Do not let your kids eat the hail or drink the rainwater. It is likely to contain some benzene and cyclohexane. Can it rain oily compounds? The short answer is it certainly can. It is also not complex to work out which chemical compounds will be coming down in our rainwater. It is those with a similar boiling point and freezing point to water. It is those that are not too heavy, that are similar to that of air at 1.2 kg per cubic meter. They should be able to rise easily to upper atmospheric levels.

Let us start with water. On earth at everyday working temperatures matter has 3 phases. They are solid, liquid and gas. We know these phases by other names called ice, water and steam.

Water is ICE or a SOLID at 32 degrees F or below that temperature. It turns to WATER or a LIQUID at temperatures slightly above 32 degrees C. It starts evaporating as soon as it is liquid and starts changing to steam or vapor until at our atmospheric pressures, at sea level, it is all STEAM or WATER VAPOR or GAS at 212 degrees F.

In the case of benzene and cyclohexane, these chemical compounds found in oil, change from a solid (ice) at 42 and 44 degrees F, and start evaporating rapidly until at 176 and 177 degrees F they are all vapor or gas.

So at 30000 to 60000 feet above sea level where it is very cold and condensation occurs, our vapor turns to liquid and solid and it rains benzene and cyclohexane ice and liquid.

Benzene and cyclohexane have small rounded structures and will therefore easily form condensation droplets for rain to commence.

Benzene and cyclohexane are carcinogenic and toxic.

They are also flammable and explosive depending on concentrations and will have a sweet odor and gasoline odor. They should not exceed 1 part per million (ppm) in air or water for benzene and should not exceed 300 ppm for cyclohexane for daily activities.

I will add other toxic compounds to my lists as I uncover the properties of the multitude of chemicals we call oil.


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