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Pollution & the Environment - Essay Example

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Pollution may be defined simply as the introduction of substances that may contaminate the environment causing it to be unstable, disorderly, harmful or uncomfortable to the ecosystem (Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, 2002). Water pollution therefore is the…
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Pollution & the Environment Pollution may be defined simply as the introduction of substances that may contaminate the environment causing it to be unstable, disorderly, harmful or uncomfortable to the ecosystem (Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, 2002). Water pollution therefore is the contamination of groundwater, oceans, lakes, rivers and other water bodies. Water pollution affects the flora and fauna that live in the water bodies and in many cases damage the populations and species as well as biological communities. The pollution happens when agents of pollution are indirectly or directly discharged into the water before they have been treated adequately to remove chemicals that are harmful.
Sources of water pollution
Water may be polluted when pollutants come from point or non-point sources. Non-point sources include those sources that are non-discrete or that do not originate from one discrete source. Non-point pollution arises from the cumulative effect of contaminating agents in little quantities over a large area. When nitrogen compounds found in fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and other agricultural products leach out, it can easily cause pollution. Sheet flow over land used for agriculture may lead to pollution of water as the nutrients that were present in soil runoff in storm water. Point sources of pollution are those sources that come from discrete sources. For example, when a manufacturing company discharges hot water from its cooling system into a river, lake or other water body making the water body to become warm, pollution occurs from a point source.
Causes of Water Pollution
There are a wide range of agents that may cause water pollution. Some of these pollutants include pathogens, chemicals, and physical changes to the natural characteristics of water. While some minerals naturally occur in water, when their concentration in the water goes beyond the natural limit, the water is considered to be contaminated. Also, when substances that cause oxygen to be depleted in water such as man-made chemicals, grass and leaves, water pollution occurs.
Pathogens or disease causing organisms such as Salmonella, Giardia lamblia, Burkholderia pseudomallei, and Cryptosporidium parvum may get into the water when waster water or sewage is not adequately treated (Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservatio, 2002). Chemical contaminants of water may include detergents, petroleum hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), products used for disinfection and waste from tree logging operations. Inorganic water pollutants include sulphur dioxide that is released from plants used for power production, ammonia that comes form waste derived in food processing companies, industrial chemical by products, heavy metals form machine parts, fert6ilizers that contain phosphates and nitrates as well as silt that comes from construction activities.
Thermal pollution of water occurs when the temperature of water is raised or lowered beyond the norm. This is usually a result of anthropogenic activities such as when companies discharge hot water into rivers. When the temperature of water in lakes, rivers and other water bodies are elevated, the oxygen level of the water is lowered which may result in the death of fish and other species that live in the water. Such temperature increases may also result in the invasion of water bodies by foreign species which best survive in warm temperatures. Water pollution may also result when water from cooler base reservoirs are released into the water body lead to the lowering of the temperature of the body.
References
Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (2002) Tennessee Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook". Nashville, TN. Read More
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