Lubricating oils used in machines with an open cutting system, such as a saw or harvester, are applied in forest areas, gardening, in the household, and in urban greenery. During the operation of the device with an open cutting system, the lubricating oil is emitted into the environment. Therefore, the use of an oil base and refining additives of petroleum origin in the content of lubricants is associated with a negative impact on health and the environment. The current legal regulations concerning lubricants applicable in the European Union (EU) assess the degree of biodegradability. Legislation permits the use of biodegradable oils at 60% for a period of 28 days. This means that, in practice, lubricating oil considered to be biodegradable can contain up to 50% of the so-called petroleum oil base. The paper aims to draw public attention to the need to reduce the toxicity and harmful effects, due to their composition, of lubricating oils emitted into the environment on health. The authors discuss the impact of petroleum oil lubricants on soils, groundwater, vegetation, and animals, and the impact of petroleum-origin oil mist on health. An overview of test methods for the biodegradability of lubricating oils is presented, including the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) 301 A–F, 310, and 302 A–D tests, as well as their standard equivalents. The current legal regulations regarding the use and control of lubricating oils emitted into the environment are discussed. Legal provisions are divided according to their area of application. Key issues regarding the biodegradability and toxicity of petroleum fractions in lubricating oils are also addressed. It is concluded that lubricating oils, emitted or potentially emitted into the environment, should contain only biodegradable ingredients in order to eliminate the negative impact on both the environment and health. Total biodegradability should be confirmed by widely applied tests. Therefore, a need to develop and implement low-cost and simple control procedures for each type of lubricating oil, ensuring the possibility of an indisputable conclusion about the presence and total absence of petroleum-derived components in oil, as well as the content of natural ingredients, occurs.
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