Petrochemical products are those chemical elements used in the production of a variety of products. There are many forms of petrochemical products used in the United States. They include oil and gas, transportation, power generation, industry, chemicals, plastics, batteries, lubricants, insecticides, etc. Petrochemical plants and refineries are located across the country, most in coastal states.
An upsurge in demand for petrochemical products, petrochemical plant operators have built a large network of suppliers that has benefited many in the energy sector and in the petrochemical industry. Petroleum refinery companies and petrochemical plants create jobs and drive economies.
Petrochemical supplies many of the crude oils used to create gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other fuels. Petrochemical products include butane, ethane, propane, pentanes, isopropanes, isocyanates, methyl chloride, and glyoxal. Petrochemical producers sell petrochemical products in many forms, including gaseous, liquid, crystalline, and solid.
Petrochemical supplies a range of materials that help to make modern society function, including plastics, resins, coatings, solvents, and floor finishes. Petrochemical plants and refineries have also created jobs in the industry, many in manufacturing, research and development, training, and maintenance.
Petrochemical manufacturing is the largest domestic industrial sector in the U.S. The U.S. contains one of the world's leading petrochemical industries. Although petroleum refining, petrochemical processing, and petrochemical products manufacture products for domestic and international markets, almost all petrochemical products are designed to either be used or disposed of in a hazardous environment. Petrochemical processing systems do not protect workers and other populations from hazardous emissions.
Petrochemical industries produce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are an important component of indoor air quality and outdoor air quality. VOCs are caused by anaerobic bacteria breaking down organic materials. VOCs can cause problems for the respiratory system, the nervous system, the digestive system, and the immune system.
Petrochemical products contain VOCs because petrochemical processing plants take away the oxygen in the raw materials. Oxygen facilitates the microorganisms in the refinery that break down the products, so once petrochemical processing starts the initial process is not fully effective. Most petrochemical processing plants emit several hundred different gases.
Petrochemical processing plants are notorious for creating smaller and more dense particles than a normal smelter produces. Once again, the materials that are separated here do not serve the same purpose as the materials that are made in a smelter and refiner.
Petrochemical products also contain heavy metals that can cause significant harm to both the physical and mental health of humans exposed to them. Heavy metals cause cancer and other serious diseases when they become airborne. Catalytic cracking and chemical vapor deposition cause heavy metals to become airborne and can cause short-term, but long-term, breathing problems.
Petrochemical plant operators have shown little inclination to clean up the air pollution that their facilities create. In fact, they claim that it is their obligation to keep the air in their plants and refineries clean. To take away their plants' responsibilities for environmental protection would be to take away their profits, which would undoubtedly be the wrong move.
Petrochemical products need to be replaced by a new, environmentally safe, chemical alternative. That substitute must come from renewable resources that are eco-friendly and will not pose a threat to our health. That substitute is biofuels, derived from plant materials.
Biofuels are renewable resources. They are not sourced from finite resources. While biofuels may cost more upfront, they are a better investment in the future and a better value in today's market than petrochemical products.