Water Pollution

Living reference work entry


All anthropogenic (man-made) chemicals and products made from them will make their way into the environment and pose a risk to water resources unless they are deliberately destroyed. A recent concern is from the profligate use of plastic that pollutes our waterways. Household and commercial laundry machines discharge a significant number of microfibers shed from textiles to sewage treatment plants which remove most but not all particles. Textile manufacturing is a major water polluting industry. Oil, natural gas, and mining industries pollute through accidental spills, legal surface water discharges, and through air emissions that also contaminate surface waters. Legacy contaminants, mainly organohalides used in pesticides, paper processing, electrical transformers, and fire retardants have long half-lives in the environment, are stored in aquatic sediments, and bioaccumulate in aquatic organisms which pose a risk to the food chain and to humans who eat them. Sewage and stormwater runoff carry pollutants such as fecal matter, pharmaceuticals and personal care products, road debris, and agricultural waste such as nutrients and pesticides. There is a cumulative effect to ecosystems and human health from chemical exposures. Solutions include effective water treatment, source water protection, water conservation, legislation, monitoring and enforcement with government, corporate and public stakeholder involvement. Nature has restorative processes such as weathering, photolysis, bioremediation, and biogeochemical cycling. Mankind can look to nature to develop sustainable methods of water recycling and purification.


Water contamination Point and nonpoint source pollution CSOs and SSOs Eutrophication Best management practices (BMPs) 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Southern University Agriculture and Extension CenterBaton RougeUSA

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