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5 Water Pollution: Classification and Effects

Lead-in.

Look at the cartoons and say what problems are illustrated in them.

Give your comments on each of them.

If the human body has about two-thirds water, our planet has about 70 % of it, which establishes the fact that water constitutes a major portion in both body masses. And that is what is alarming. If 70 % of the earth is surface is made up of water, then humankind should have been very wary of anything that would pollute this major portion of the planet. Water pollution is now a global problem.

Water pollution may be defined as the addition of any substance (pollutant) to water resource which may change the physical and chemical characteristics in any way which may interfere with its use for legitimate purposes.

The water pollution may be caused by the wastewater discharges either from point source or non-point sources. Point sources include effluent outfalls from industries, waste treatment plants etc., that discharge effluents of varying quality directly into the water resources. Non-point sources include contaminants that enter the water resources such as human waste washed off from open defecated area via pesticide runoff from farm fields as well as runoff of automotive fluids and other chemicals from roads, parking lots, and other surfaces.

There are many types of water pollutants but these can be segregated into four classifications: natural, agricultural, municipal and industrial pollutants. Natural water pollutants could include all the natural phenomena that happen from time to time such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes that cause major upheavals in the ocean floor and storms that cause flashfloods. Even global warming could be qualified as a cause of water pollution.

Agricultural pollution consists mainly of poultry and other agricultural animal wastes that are carelessly thrown off to bodies of water near farms. It could also be the fertilizers or pesticides that are used to make better crops, which erode into lakes, rivers or streams. Municipal wastes are those that come from residential areas. This is the liquid waste that households throw into bodies of water. Industrial pollution consists of all the wastes that major industrial firms chuck into the waters. This last classification is the most severe and most rampant among the three - and it is also the one that has caused the most damage. Industrial waste could include contaminants that are hard to take off from the waters once they spread - petroleum from oil spills or nuclear wastes.

The pollutants can be broadly classified into organic, inorganic and radioactive substance. Organic pollutants are oxygen depleting wastes which include the following domestic and industrial bio-degradable organic wastes;

  • • Infectious disease may cause wastes containing pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria and virus.
  • • Synthetic organic pollutants, which are the man-made chemicals such as detergents, pesticide, food additives, pharmaceuticals, insecticides, paints, synthetic fibers, plastics and other industrial chemicals, paints solvents, plasticizers and other industrial chemicals.
  • • Organic nutrients such as nitrate and phosphates carried by agricultural run-off from agricultural lands.
  • • Oil pollution in water may take place due to oil spills from cargo tankers on the seas, losses during off shore exploration and production of oil, accidental fires in ships and oil tankers, accidental or intentional oil slicks.

Inorganic pollutants comprise of mineral acids, inorganic salts, finely divided into metals or metal compounds, trace elements, heavy metals, sulfates, nitrates, organo metallic compounds and complexes of metals with organics include toxic chromium, lead, mercury and chloride.

The radioactive water pollutants may originate from mining and processing of ores, e.g., uranium tailings, increasing use of radio-active isotopes in research, agricultural and medical applications, nuclear power plants and nuclear reactors, testing and use of nuclear weaponry. Radioactive pollutants are known as carcinogenic.

The toxic substances render the water unfit for the downstream use. Contamination of drinking water resulting in the transmission of water-borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, diarrhea, dysentery, polio and infectious hepatitis in humans. Nitrates restrict the amount of oxygen reaching the brain causing blue-baby syndrome (mathemaglobanemia) in infants. Nitrogen also cause digestive tract cancer and affect lungs. Most of synthetic organic chemicals are potentially toxic to plants, animals and humans and known as carcinogen. Oil spills can cause skin irritations and rashes.

Water pollution effects the depletion of dissolved oxygen (DO) in surface water bodies, thus affecting the fish and other aquatic life. Invasive species can compete native species and reduce biodiversity. Invasive plants can contribute debris and bio molecules (allelopathy) that can alter soil and chemical compositions of an environment, often reducing native species competitiveness. Pollution disrupts the natural food chain. Toxic pollutants such as lead, chromium, mercury, cadmium etc., are consumed by tiny animals. Later, these animals are consumed by fish and the food chain continues to be disrupted at all higher levels. Eventually, humans are affected by this process as well. Organic nutrients such as nitrates and phosphates may stimulate the growth of algae and other aquatic weeds in the receiving water body. This unwildly plant-growth results in the degradation of the water quality, intended for drinking and other uses by causing odor, taste etc. The increased water temperature due to discharge of effluent from thermal power stations causes the heat stress or death of sensitive species; and enhanced microorganism respiration.

The bodies of water in the world are in catastrophic danger, what with all the industries in the world today, plus our individual wastes all put together. No wonder mankind now drinks from bottles instead of just scooping water from running streams. The effects of water pollution to humanity are staggering. But we should also consider all the other life forms that suffer - the fishes and other animals such as birds, and plants.

Exercise 1. Match the synonyms from A to В

A

В

1. to include

a), to reduce

2. to make up

b). effluent

3. pollutant

c). liquid

4. to decrease

d). to constitute

5. run-off

e). discharge

6. due to

f). contaminant

7. fluid

g). to increase

8. outfall

h). to happen

9. to take place

i). to comprise

Exercise 2. Match the antonyms from A to В

A

В

1. connect

a), industrial

2. point

b). improvement

3. domestic

c). disrupt

4. natural

d). intentional

5. invasive

e). non-point

6. degradation

f). native

7. accidental

g). man-made

Exercise 3. Complete the sentences translating the Russian words

  • 1. Oil pollution in water takes place due to oil spills from cargo tankers on the seas, losses during off shore exploration and production of oil, accidental or (намеренный разлив нефти).
  • 2. The last classification is the most (угрожающая) among the three as it is also the one that has caused the most damage.
  • 3. Natural water pollutants include all the natural phenomena such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes that cause (смещение пластов) in the ocean floor and storms that cause (катастрофическое наводнение).
  • 4. The effects of water pollution to humanity are (ошеломляющий), but we should also consider all the other life forms that suffer.
  • 5. The toxic substances (делают воду непригодной) for the downstream use.
  • 6. Contamination of drinking water results in (распространение болезней, передаваемых через воду) such as cholera, typhoid, diarrhea, dysentery and others in humans.
  • 7. No wonder residents of cities now drink from bottles (вместо того, чтобы черпать) water from running streams..
  • 8. Industrial pollution consists of all the wastes that major industrial firms (выбрасывают) into the waters..
  • 9. Invasive plants can (добавлять органические остатки) and bio molecules that can alter soil and chemical compositions of an environment, often reducing (природная конкурентоспособность видов).

Exercise 4. Match the terms with their definitions

A

В

1

Carcinogen

a

a chemical substance used to kill harmful insects, small animals, wild plants or other unwanted organisms

2

Food chain

b

a chemical substance in the form of a powder or a liquid for removing dirt from clothes or dishes

3

Detergent

c

a substance which cause a very dangerous disease

4

Fertilizer

d

a set of animals or plants, members of which have similar characteristics to each other and which can be breed with each other

5

Species

e

a natural or chemical substance which is spread on the land to make plants grow well

6

Effluent

f

a series of living things which are connected because each group of things eat the group below it in the series

7

Pesticide

g

outflowing of water or gas from a natural body of water, or from a man-made structure.

Exercise 5. Put the sentences into logical order

  • 1. The animals are consumed by fish.
  • 2. Invasive species compete native species.
  • 3. Pollution disrupts the natural food chain.
  • 4. Pollutants enter the water source effecting the depletion of dissolved oxygen.
  • 5. Toxic pollutants are consumed by tiny animals.
  • 6. Invasive species appear due to changed environmental conditions.
  • 7. Humans are affected by the process of water pollution.
  • 8. Food chain continues to be disrupted at all higher levels.
  • 9. Native species reduce biodiversity.

Exercise 6. Say whether the sentences are true or false

  • 1. Water pollution is defined as the addition of any substance to water resource which does not change the physical and chemical characteristics.
  • 2. There are three classifications of water pollutants.
  • 3. The radioactive water pollutants may come from testing and use of nuclear weaponry.
  • 4. Organic nutrients make the water plants grow too quickly, so that they choke the river and die.
  • 5. The last classification is the most rampant among the three as it includes domestic and industrial wastes.
  • 6. Water constitutes a major portion in
 
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