Meaning and Solution of Water Pollution

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Water pollution is described as the contamination of water and can occur in a number of ways. When water contamination comes to mind most individuals often think of giant oil spills caused by oil tankers spilling into the oceans, or sewage run offs deposited from large industrial corporations. However, water contamination also occurs on a smaller scale, for instance wind blowing empty plastic water bottles into the oceans and runoff from salts that are used to clear snow away with in winter also known as storm water runoff . 

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Water contamination typically originates from agricultural discharge, oil spills and radioactive waste from hospitals and universities carrying out research. Less apparent sources of water contamination that don’t come as readily to mind include carbon emissions that large bodies of water absorb from the air. This assignment will explore topics such as: Why we should care about water pollution, what the biological feature of this problem is, and a proposed solution to help in regards to the Flint Michigan Water pollution situation.

 The part of biology affected by water contamination is environmental biology – or environmental science as it integrates areas such as biology and ecology to examine environmental issues such as pollution amongst others. The species most effected by water pollution are species that inhabit the water as well as human beings which will be discussed in detail later on. More specifically, water pollution effects organisms inhabiting the water such as fish, crustaceans – shrimp and lobsters, and shellfish. These organisms are effected when substances such as fertilizer runoff causes the growth of algae. When these algae plants die, bacteria use a surplus of oxygen in the water to decompose it. Because so much oxygen is used up at the bottom where the decomposed algae is this leaves little for organisms inhabiting the water. Some fish are able to move away and towards sources of oxygen. However, most other organisms such as shellfish and crustaceans aren’t and die as a result. Other organisms effected by algae growth include sea turtles, seabirds, dolphins and sea lions as algae produces toxins which poisons these organisms. In addition water contamination also has a significant impact on human health.

 Once ingested, heavy metals like mercury, arsenic and lead in water can cause cancer, alter brain function and disrupt hormone regulation. Moreso, diseases such as giardia, typhoid and cholera are carried in contaminated water causing illness’s. Water contamination is a massive issue that is problematic on a global scale to many organisms and individuals. However, on a smaller scale, Flint Michigan in more recent years has been an area that has been heavily impacted by water contamination. In 2014 the water supply was switched from Lake Huron to the Flint River – a more polluted body of water which did not undergo treatment for the corrosion of lead pipes leading to alarmingly high rates of lead in the water. A study done by confirmed that the amount of lead in the blood stream nearly doubled from 2.4% to 4.9% and even up to 6.6% in other areas. As a result, exposure to lead can cause decreased cognitive abilities and behavioural problems as well as long term neurotoxic effects in young children as stated in a study. 

Additionally, untreated children exposed to lead could lead to problems such as increased blood pressure and neurological impairment as stated by .Water pollution is a problem that presents as both permanent (genetic) and temporary (biochemical). It is permanent as it can cause serious physical impairments such as irreversible brain and nervous system damage in young children and babies which cannot be fixed. However it is also temporary as it is a problem where steps can be taken towards decreasing the levels of lead pollution in the water. Moreso, it is temporary as health related issues such as cardiovascular and kidney effects and elevated blood pressure can be treated with the right protocols. The outcome of this problem had a massive economic impact on the city of Flint Michigan. In a letter composed by (Muenning, 2016) the economic loss as a result of the water pollution is highlighted and states a “$395 million in net present losses” pointing out this figure is before the 58$ million spent on medical care and on water provisions by the state has been taken into account. Moreso, this problem is of extreme significance due to the urgent nature of the matter. Water is vital and essential part of our day to day lives that many of us don’t give a second thought too. Whether it be showering to drinking a glass of water after lunch, water is a critical component of our day to day well-being and as such every human being should have access to clean unpolluted water. 

Trivializing something such as access to clean drinking water is simply unacceptable and needs to be a priority. Additionally there are many health consequences to the lead polluted water as pointed out in numerous studies. Lead contaminated water has many dangerous health effects to pregnant women and children, in a report published  they indicate that the exposure to lead can interfere with intelligence and behaviour. They also go on to say that it can cause infertility and miscarriages. In a more recent study it was noted that the lead found in the polluted water poses long-term neurotoxic effects on younger children. With the investment of $1,000,000 I would ideally like to start a solution that addresses the day to day needs of the residents of flint Michigan while contributing to a long term solution.

Ideally I would like to start with making sure every house has both bottled water and water filters delivered to them. Starting with this will provide a short term solution of water pollution. Additionally, I would like to see it end up with the repair and replacement of pipes and the creating of a new pipeline not sourced from the Flint River. There are various aspects when it comes to fixing this issue to which money is a solution including the creating of a new pipeline and the repair of the old ones.

 Alternatively, Issues such as a change in leadership are ones that money cannot buy and is an outcome I would like to see as individuals in positions of power were involved in the covering up of this issue. In regards to a timeline, initially I would like to see the bottled water and filters being delivered first to provide a temporary fix while a new pipeline is being built and while pipes are being repaired. While that new pipeline is being built I would like to see a change in leadership take place to ensure that a crisis this debilitating doesn’t occur again.    

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