Pollution

Funded by: Created by ESTA members: Tracy Atkinson, John Reynolds, Stewart Taylor, Geoff Selby-Sly, Maggie Williams, Peter Williams
Copyright for all materials remains the property of the authors, but you may use it freely for educational purposes.
Pollution in the River Dee, Cheshire. Credit: M Williams
A polluted river draining an abandoned copper mine on Anglesey. Credit: Cls14

Water pollution

“Filthy water cannot be washed.” A West African proverb.

What is water pollution?

Water pollution is the contamination of water in lakes, rivers, seas and underground. Pollution is a major problem in the world because it affects the quality of water found on the Earth’s surface and in groundwater and it may have a harmful effect on any living thing that lives in the contaminated water - or drinks it.  As a result most fresh water, including water from wells or springs, needs treatment before humans can drink it.
Causes of water pollution There are several ways by which water can become polluted.  These include: By industries accidentally discharging chemical waste into rivers.  These pollutants may include chemicals like cyanide, zinc, lead, copper, cadmium and mercury.  High concentrations of these chemicals in river water can be dangerous and kill fish and other aquatic animals.  Unfortunately, these pollutants may enter a food chain and may eventually kill birds, fish and mammals. By farmers spreading fertilizers on their crops.  Although crops grow better when fertilisers are used, these fertilisers can be washed through the soil and end up in rivers and lakes and lead to eutrophication.  This happens when increased concentrations of nitrate and phosphate in rivers and lakes produce rapid growth of algae (algal blooms).  Algae turn the water green, but the problem is that when the algae die they decay.  This reduces the amount of oxygen in the water and may lead to the death of many aquatic animals
Run off of soil and fertiliser during a rainstorm. Credit: Lyn Betts
An algal bloom caused by eutrophication. Credit: F. Lamiot
· By factories using water from rivers to power machinery. When this takes place, dirty water containing chemicals may be flushed back into the river.  By factories using river water to cool down machinery. The water used for cooling becomes warmer and this raises the temperature of the river water.  The increase in temperature may alter the level of dissolved oxygen in the river and affect the balance of life in the river. By sewage discharges into rivers and groundwater. Badly installed or poorly maintained septic tanks and treatment plants can pollute local water supplies if the effluent is not treated properly before it is discharged. By people throwing rubbish into rivers. How can we measure water pollution?
A polluted stream which can only provide low quality water. Credit: Frank Ippolito, USGS
Some forms of water pollution are obvious because they can be seen, but water pollution cannot always be seen and so is harder to detect. Fortunately we can measure the quality of water in different ways. One way is to take samples of the water and measure the types and concentrations of the different chemicals it contains.  Measurements like this are known as chemical indicators of water quality. Another way of measuring water quality is by examining the types of fish, insects and other invertebrates that the water will support. Measurements like this are called biological indicators of water quality.  Water quality is likely to be very good if many different types of creatures can live in a river; if the river supports no fish life at all, the quality is poor. Invertebrate indicators of pollution
Ten facts about water pollution 1. According to UNICEF, more than 3000 children die every day globally due to consumption of contaminated drinking water. 2. At least 320 million people in China do not have access to clean drinking water. 3. According to the World Health Organization, 3.2 million children under the age of five in developing nations die each year as a result of unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation. 4. 20% of the groundwater in China is used as drinking water which is highly contaminated with carcinogenic chemicals which cause high levels of water pollution. 5. Water pollution is the major cause of various diseases like cholera and typhoid. 6. Around 70% of the industrial waste is dumped into the water bodies where they pollute the usable water supply. 7. The River Ganges in India is one the most polluted in the world.  It contain sewage, trash, food, and animal remains 8. The head of China's national development agency said in 2007 that one quarter the length of China's seven main rivers were so poisoned the water harmed the skin. 9. In America, 40% of the rivers and 46% of the lakes are polluted and are considered unhealthy for swimming, fishing or aquatic life. 10. The 2011 tsunami in Japan created 70 km long island of debris which is floating out into the Pacific Ocean. A water pollution guide for schools is available at: http://www.water-pollution.org.uk The following BBC clip is about educating the peeople of Bangladesh about water hygiene: http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/clips/znv4wmn This website below explains the causes and effects of water pollution and includes further facts about water pollution: http://eschooltoday.com/pollution/water-pollution/effects-of-water-pollution.html The US Geological Survey has produced a primer on water quality: http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/fs-027-01/ The following website has a section called “Education Interactive”, which is designed for use in for Primary schools and covers various topics such as how water is prepared and how dirty water is cleaned:  http://www.unitedutilities.com/all-about-water.aspx Student booklets and a teacher information pack (“All about water”) may be downloaded from this section of the United Utilities website: http://www.unitedutilities.com/all-about-water.aspx This Nuffield Foundation site has a very useful section about monitoring water pollution with indicator species.  It includes health and safety advice about the risk of infections from pond water and explains how to minimise this risk.  The site also includes a black and white chart illustrating the animals that can be used as vertebrate indicators of pollution: http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/practical-biology/monitoring-water-pollution-invertebrate-indicator-species
This BBC website explains how water in different parts of the UK varies in the amount of dissolved mineral it contains and this determines whether it is hard or soft water: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/science/triple_aqa/w ater/hard_soft_water/revision/1/

Pollution

Funded by:

Created by ESTA members: Tracy Atkinson, John Reynolds, Stewart

Taylor, Geoff Selby-Sly, Maggie Williams, Peter Williams

Copyright for all materials remains the property of the authors, but you may use it freely for educational purposes.

Water pollution

“Filthy water cannot be washed.” A West African proverb.

What is water pollution?

Water pollution is the contamination of water in lakes, rivers, seas and underground. Pollution is a major problem in the world because it affects the quality of water found on the Earth’s surface and in groundwater and it may have a harmful effect on any living thing that lives in the contaminated water - or drinks it.  As a result most fresh water, including water from wells or springs, needs treatment before humans can drink it.
ACTIVITY P3:  Investigating whether or not different types of water produce varying amounts of lather
A polluted river draining an abandoned copper mine on Anglesey. Credit: Cls14
Pollution in the River Dee, Cheshire. Credit: M Williams
Causes of water pollution There are several ways by which water can become polluted.  These include: By industries accidentally discharging chemical waste into rivers.  These pollutants may include chemicals like cyanide, zinc, lead, copper, cadmium and mercury.  High concentrations of these chemicals in river water can be dangerous and kill fish and other aquatic animals.  Unfortunately, these pollutants may enter a food chain and may eventually kill birds, fish and mammals. By farmers spreading fertilizers on their crops.  Although crops grow better when fertilisers are used, these fertilisers can be washed through the soil and end up in rivers and lakes and lead to eutrophication.  This happens when increased concentrations of nitrate and phosphate in rivers and lakes produce rapid growth of algae (algal blooms).  Algae turn the water green, but the problem is that when the algae die they decay.  This reduces the amount of oxygen in the water and may lead to the death of many aquatic animals
Run off of soil and fertiliser during a rainstorm. Credit: Lyn Betts
An algal bloom caused by eutrophication. Credit: F. Lamiot
· By factories using water from rivers to power machinery. When this takes place, dirty water containing chemicals may be flushed back into the river.  By factories using river water to cool down machinery. The water used for cooling becomes warmer and this raises the temperature of the river water.  The increase in temperature may alter the level of dissolved oxygen in the river and affect the balance of life in the river. By sewage discharges into rivers and groundwater. Badly installed or poorly maintained septic tanks and treatment plants can pollute local water supplies if the effluent is not treated properly before it is discharged. By people throwing rubbish into rivers. How can we measure water pollution?
A polluted stream which can only provide low quality water. Credit: Frank Ippolito, USGS
Some forms of water pollution are obvious because they can be seen, but water pollution cannot always be seen and so is harder to detect. Fortunately we can measure the quality of water in different ways. One way is to take samples of the water and measure the types and concentrations of the different chemicals it contains.  Measurements like this are known as chemical indicators of water quality. Another way of measuring water quality is by examining the types of fish, insects and other invertebrates that the water will support. Measurements like this are called biological indicators of water quality.  Water quality is likely to be very good if many different types of creatures can live in a river; if the river supports no fish life at all, the quality is poor. Invertebrate indicators of pollution
Ten facts about water pollution 1. According to UNICEF, more than 3000 children die every day globally due to consumption of contaminated drinking water. 2. At least 320 million people in China do not have access to clean drinking water. 3. According to the World Health Organization, 3.2 million children under the age of five in developing nations die each year as a result of unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation. 4. 20% of the groundwater in China is used as drinking water which is highly contaminated with carcinogenic chemicals which cause high levels of water pollution. 5. Water pollution is the major cause of various diseases like cholera and typhoid. 6. Around 70% of the industrial waste is dumped into the water bodies where they pollute the usable water supply. 7. The River Ganges in India is one the most polluted in the world.  It contain sewage, trash, food, and animal remains 8. The head of China's national development agency said in 2007 that one quarter the length of China's seven main rivers were so poisoned the water harmed the skin. 9. In America, 40% of the rivers and 46% of the lakes are polluted and are considered unhealthy for swimming, fishing or aquatic life. 10. The 2011 tsunami in Japan created 70 km long island of debris which is floating out into the Pacific Ocean. A water pollution guide for schools is available at: http://www.water-pollution.org.uk The following BBC clip is about educating the peeople of Bangladesh about water hygiene: http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/clips/znv4wmn This website below explains the causes and effects of water pollution and includes further facts about water pollution: http://eschooltoday.com/pollution/water-pollution/effects-of-water-pollution.html The US Geological Survey has produced a primer on water quality: http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/fs-027-01/ The following website has a section called “Education Interactive”, which is designed for use in for Primary schools and covers various topics such as how water is prepared and how dirty water is cleaned:  http://www.unitedutilities.com/all-about-water.aspx Student booklets and a teacher information pack (“All about water”) may be downloaded from this section of the United Utilities website: http://www.unitedutilities.com/all-about-water.aspx This Nuffield Foundation site has a very useful section about monitoring water pollution with indicator species.  It includes health and safety advice about the risk of infections from pond water and explains how to minimise this risk.  The site also includes a black and white chart illustrating the animals that can be used as vertebrate indicators of pollution: http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/practical-biology/monitoring-water-pollution-invertebrate- indicator-species
ACTIVITY P2 : But is it really clean? Enhancing  understanding ACTIVITY P1:  Investigating how dirty water can be cleaned
This BBC website explains how water in different parts of the UK varies in the amount of dissolved mineral it contains and this determines whether it is hard or soft water: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/science/triple_aqa/w ater/hard_soft_water/revision/1/