Oil spills are one of the most destructive environmental disasters. Petroleum, also known as crude oil, is usually found under the surface of the Earth, and humans use it to fuel almost everything we produce. Unfortunately, though it’s a natural substance, oil is toxic to humans, wildlife and plants, which makes oil spills a very big deal.
Due to the way that oil breaks down, there’s no way to know exactly how much oil has been accidentally released over time. However, there are some reports that estimate it is well into the millions of gallons– and may even be in the billions! Learn more about the largest oil spills in history, and the impact they’ve had on the environment in the interactive map below.