Reference Work Entry

Environmental Geology

Part of the series Encyclopedia of Earth Science pp 230-235

Environmental toxicology

  • Aristeo Renzoni
  • , Eros Bacci

Contamination and pollution

Contamination is a change in one or more of the environmental conditions (such as temperature, acidity or transparency) caused by an agent. It is also a change induced by man in the availability of resources (e.g. eutrophication), or the alteration of their physicochemical properties. Environmental condition is one of the abiotic factors which are not depleted by biological activity; resources are normally exploited by living organisms, with a reduction of their availability to other organisms, but with no alteration of their quality. Thus, environmental contamination can be defined as a human action that is able to modify properties of environmental conditions or the availability and quality of resources over a given space range and time interval (Bacci, 1994). Environmental contamination does not necessarily imply a measurable damage to living organisms. Natural alterations of conditions and resources may be considered as anomalie ...

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