Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: June 2012

Chapter 9 - Water pollution

Summary

“For change, we need three factors: leadership from above, pressure from below, or some exemplary catastrophe.”

(Crispin Tickell, Oxford University)

Aside from the very important issue of clean drinking water, why care about clean water? Clean water – and enough of it – is essential to any and all life, animals, plants, and microbes. Fish are vulnerable to polluted water. Indeed, there are places in the world where the water is so polluted that fish have disappeared. In many other places fish or shellfish survive, but are not safe to eat because their flesh is contaminated. Humans enjoy being around water, but contamination with infectious organisms makes swimming unsafe; or if water has obnoxious odors or scum, being near it is not pleasant. Clean water is vital.

This chapter surveys water pollutants, the problems they cause, and actions taken to reduce them. Section I introduces terms important to understanding water pollution. After then describing the six conventional water pollutants, it introduces toxic and non-conventional pollutants. Section II examines reducing point-source pollution, especially through wastewater treatment. Sewage treatment is a major part of this effort. Section III looks at the control and pollution-prevention methods commonly used to reduce sources of non-point-source pollution. Section IV examines how the impact of pollution differs depending on the type of water body affected (rivers, estuaries, groundwater, and wetlands). Section V delves into water pollution in a developing country, China.

Further reading
Betts, K. S.China's pollution progress slows. Environmental Science and Technology, 36(15), 1 August, 2002, 308A–309A
Burke, M.Managing China's water resources. Environmental Science and Technology, 34(9), 1 May, 2000, 219A–221A
Carpenter, S. R. and Bennett, E.P soup: humanity's impact on the phosphorus cycle. World Watch, 15(2), March/April, 2001, 24–32
Christen, K.Wastewater reuse: water shortage solution or long-term nightmare?Environmental Science and Technology, 32(19), 1 October, 1998, 447A
Christen, K.Slow recovery after Exxon Valdez oil spill. Environmental Science and Technology, 33(7), 1 April, 1999, 148
Ferber, D.Marine biology: keeping the Stygian waters at bay. Science, 291(5506), February, 2001, 969–71
Freeman, K.Too dangerous to dip? Marine pollution makes swimmers sick. Environmental Health Perspectives, 109(7), July, 2002, A332
Hinrichsen, D.Coasts in crisis. Issues in Science and Technology, (4), Summer, 1996, 39–47
Kaiser, J.The other global pollutant: nitrogen proves tough to curb. Science, 294(5545), November, 2001, 1268–69
Kideys, A. E.Fall and rise of the Black Sea ecosystem. Science, 297(5586), 30 August, 2002, 1482–84
Larsen, T. A., Peters, I., Alder, A., Eggen, R., Maurer, M., and Muncke, J.Re-engineering the toilet for sustainable wastewater management. Environmental Science and Technology, 35(9), 1 May, 2001, 192A–197A
Levin, B. R. and Antia, R.Why we don't get sick. The within-host population dynamics of bacterial infections. Science, 292(5519), 11 May, 2001, 1112–15
Lewis, D. L. and Gattie, D. K.Pathogen risks from applying sewage sludge to land. Environmental Science and Technology, 36(13), 1 July, 2002, 287A–293A
Montaigne, F.Water pressure. National Geographic, September, 2002, 2–33
Nierenberg, D.Toxic fertility. World Watch, 14(2), March/April, 2001, 30–38 (reactive nitrogen as an ecological poison)
Paerl, H. W.Connecting atmospheric nitrogen deposition to coastal eutrophication. Environmental Science and Technology, 36(15), 1 August, 2002, 323A–326A
Pelley, J.Is coastal eutrophication out of control?Environmental Science and Technology, 32(19), 1 October, 1998, 462A–466A
Pelley, J.Action on Gulf hypoxic zone moves ahead. Environmental Science and Technology, 34(19), 1 October, 2000, 414A–415A
Perkins, S.Crisis on tap?Science News, 162(3), 20 July, 2002, 42–43
Raloff, J.Sea sickness, marine epidemiology comes of age. Science News, 155(5), January, 1999, 72–74
Raloff, J.Algae turn fish into a lethal lunch. Science News, 157(2), 8 January, 2000, 20
Renner, R.Sewage sludge, pros and cons. Environmental Science and Technology, 34(13), 1 August, 2000, 430A–435A
Smil, V. Enriching the Earth: Fritz Haber, Carl Bosch and the Transformation of World Food Production. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001
Steiner, R.Oil-stained legacy. National Wildlife, 32(5), August/September, 1994, 37
Templeton, S. R., Zilberman, D., and Yoo, S. J.An economic perspective on outdoor residential pesticide use. Environmental Science and Technology, 32(17), 1 September, 1998, 416A–423A
Wilcox, K.Alternative toilets. Small Flows, 10(1), Winter, 1996, 6–7
Williams, T.What good is a wetland?Audubon, 98(6), November–December, 1996, 42–53
Internet resources
China State Environmental Protection Agency. 2002. http://www.zhb.gov.cn/english/
Dombeck, M. 2003. The Forgotten Forest Product: Water. New York Timeshttp://www.waterconserve.info/articles/reader.asp?linkid=19051 (accessed January, 2004)
Texas Non-point Source Book. 1999. Storm Water Pollution Management. http://www.txnpsbook.org/SiteMap.htm (accessed August, 2002)
United Nations Global Program of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities. 2004. http://www.gpa.unep.org/about/#tag10 (accessed January, 2004)
US Environmental Protection Agency (a US agency). 1990. Citizens' Guide to Groundwater Protection. http://www.epa.gov/safewater/protect/citguid.pdf (accessed September, 2002)
US Environmental Protection Agency (a US agency) 1998. Wastewater Primer. http://www.epa.gov/owm/primer.pdf (accessed September, 2002)
US Environmental Protection Agency (a US agency) 2002. Frequently Asked Questions About Atmospheric Deposition. http://epa.gov/oar/oaqps/gr8water/handbook/index.html (accessed September, 2002)
US Environmental Protection Agency (a US agency) 2002. Functions and Values of Wetlands. http://www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/facts/fun_val.pdf (accessed August, 2002)
US Environmental Protection Agency (a US agency) 2002. National Coastal Conditions Report. http://epa.gov/owow/oceans/nccr/ (accessed September, 2002)
US Environmental Protection Agency (a US agency) 2002. Non-point Source Pollution: The Nation's Largest Water Quality Problem. http://www.epa.govhttp://OWOW/NPS/facts/point1.htm (accessed September, 2002)
US Environmental Protection Agency (a US agency) 2002. Oceans, Coasts, and Estuaries, National Coastal Condition Report. http://epa.gov/owow/oceans/nccr/ (accessed April, 2003)
US Environmental Protection Agency (a US agency) 2002. Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds. http://www.epa.gov/owow/owow (accessed August, 2002)
US Environmental Protection Agency (a US agency) 2002. Shellfish Protection. http://www.epa.gov/OST/shellfish/ (accessed September, 2002)
US Environmental Protection Agency (a US agency) 2002. Water Quality Criteria, Microbial (Pathogen). http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/humanhealth/microbial/microbial.html (accessed April, 2003)
US Environmental Protection Agency (a US agency) 2003. Drinking Water Source Assessment. http://www.epa.gov/ogwdw/protect/assessment.html (accessed April, 2003)
US Environmental Protection Agency (a US agency) 2003. Groundwater and Drinking Water, List of Drinking Water Contaminants and Maximum contaminant levels. http://www.epa.gov/safewater/mcl.html#mcls (accessed May, 2003)
US Environmental Protection Agency (a US agency) and Kansas Biological Survey. 2001. Storm water Management Site. http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/urbanwater/stormwater_management.html (accessed August, 2002)
US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (a US agency). 2002. The State of the Chesapeake Bay. http://www.chesapeakebay.net/pubs/sob/index.cfm (accessed September, 2002)
US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (a US agency) 2003. Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Assessment. http://www.nos.noaa.gov/products/pubs_hypox.html (accessed January, 2004)