When you think of problems in the world today, water pollution isnt one that would normally come up. In fact it is one of the worst problems in the world today. Water pollution, by definition, is the contamination of streams, lakes, underground water, bays, or oceans by any substances harmful to living things. All living things contain it, live in it, and most need it to survive, so water pollution is a big problem, if not the biggest. If severe, the pollution can kill off birds, fish, and any animals that use the water source. In some cases even killing an entire species.
Keeping the pollution to a minimal isnt the easiest thing in the world to do. The major water pollutants are chemical, biological, or physical materials that degrade water quality. Pollutants can be classed in to eight categories, each of which presents its own set of hazards.
Petroleum products are one of the most toxic substances to the ecosystem. Oil and chemicals derived from oil get into the water mainly by means of accidental spills from ships, tanker trucks, pipelines, and leaky underground storage tanks. Many petroleum products are poisonous if ingested by animals, and spilled oil damages the feathers of birds or the fur of animals, often causing death.
Pesticides and herbicides are toxins that are used to kill of unwanted animals and plants. These may be collected by rainwater runoff and carried into steams, rivers, lakes, and even into the ocean. More than 14 million Americans drink water contaminated by with pesticides. Nitrates, a pollutant often derived from fertilizer runoff, can cause methemoglobinemia in infants, a potentially lethal form of anemia that is also called blue baby syndrome.
Heavy metals, such as copper, lead, mercury, and selenium are another group of toxins that pollute the water as well as the rest of the environment. The source of many of these pollutants are industries, automobile exhaust, mines, and even natural soil.
Hazardous wastes are another problem for the water in our world. These wastes are toxic, reactive, corrosive or ignitable. Most problems come from humans not storing the substance properly or not disposing of it correctly. This can be easily proven in 1969, when the Cuyahoga River, in Cleveland, Ohio, caught on fire and burned for sometime. Since this happened environmentalists have taken extreme measures to reduce the amount of pollution that is coming out of the power plants that are on the river and on Lake Erie.
Thermal pollution is the final problem that I am going to discuss. Thermal pollution is probably the most over-looked pollution problem. Water is often drawn from sources for the use as a coolant in power plants and factories. The water is usually returned to the source much warmer than when it was taken. Even a small temperature change in the water can make groups of organisms move along to different waters. There can even be death to all organisms that are located near the discharge source of the heated water.
In the United States, the serious campaign against water pollution began in 1972, when Congress passed the Clean Water Act. This Act or law, began a national campaign to stop any pollution to any lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands, and coastal waters. The law also required anyone or any companies that discharge pollutants into waterways to apply for federal permits and to be responsible