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Water pollution. California's water pollution dilemma - Essay Example

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Water pollution is the contamination of our rivers, lakes, public beaches, and drinking water by unwanted agents known to cause illness, disease, and death. The pollution can be biological, such as an unwanted bacteria or parasites…
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Water pollution. Californias water pollution dilemma
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Download file to see previous pages Water pollution is the contamination of our rivers, lakes, public beaches, and drinking water by unwanted agents known to cause illness, disease, and death. The pollution can be biological, such as an unwanted bacteria or parasites. It may be a chemical known to cause cancer, which has been discharged from an industrial waste site. The ill effects of water pollution can range from a mild inconvenience to a serious health problem in humans. Animals and fish, even more sensitive to many pollutants and toxins, can be placed at risk when the ecological system of our rivers and lakes is disrupted. Whatever form the water pollution takes, it places California's scarce and most precious commodity at particular risk. Everyone has an individual responsibility to curb the pollution that threatens the health of the population, the safety of the food and water supply, and ultimately has a devastating impact on the economy of California.When toxic chemicals spill into the water system the wildlife that depends on that supply suffers. In the case of an oil spill from a tanker, the results are fast and obvious. The oily sludge permeates their fur and feathers handicapping any hope of the animal's survival. This form of pollution is highly visible and causes damage that can be easily measured and evaluated. We can readily see the animals die as they encounter this water pollution. However, other types of pollution that threaten California's wildlife are not so readily apparent.
Industrial chemicals that leach into our water supply, streams, and lakes may not be visible to the human eye but threaten to destroy our food chain. They may not kill fish instantly as the fish survive the moderate levels of the toxins that are present. However, many industrial pollutants, build up in the fish and wildlife over time. PCBs, a known carcinogen that is now prohibited, continues to persist in our environment and water supply years after it was banned (Environmental Defense Fund). When a human eats the fish, they ingest the pollutants that have been stored. Consuming this source of food on a regular basis can cause severe health problems and lead to death.
Often times when wastewater from a sewage system is improperly discharged into the environment it contaminates a public area that is used for swimming or recreation. This contaminated wastewater carries potentially dangerous viruses, parasites, and bacteria with it. The effects of these waterborne pathogens can be as mild as a case of diarrhea or as serious as meningitis. High fever, liver infection, and birth defects have all been traced to water pollution caused by contaminated wastewater discharged into a public lake or beach (Nester et al). Though these contaminates do occasionally foul our drinking water supply, the most likely contact the public has is at a common recreational area.
According to DiGiacomo, Washburn, Holt and Jones, "Treated municipal wastewater from urban areas of the Southern California Bight is commonly discharged into the coastal ocean [...] interfering with human activities near shore such as swimming fishing, and surfing" (1018). The surfactants in these wastewater plumes are primarily man made and include detergents, solvents, and human waste (DiGiacomo et al. 1021). These waste products are toxic to wildlife and humans.
The CDC documents all reported cases of illness caused by polluted water and found during the period of 1995-1996 of the 12000 cases of disease caused by contaminated water, a full 75 percent were contracted in a public beach or swimming facility (Nester et al.). These statistics show not only the seriousness of the illnesses associated with water pollution, it also points out the widespread scope of the threat to our public beaches.
Often these pollutants are the direct result of improperly disposed of waste near a population center. This carries a serious risk of contaminating a water supply for a city. This has happened many times in large and small ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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