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Sixth grade Science students blogging from the Pacific Northwest in Chimacum, WA!
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by teacher: Alfonso Gonzalez
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The oceans help absorb greenhouse gases. They clean the air we breathe . We gather food, such as fish, shellfish,squid, and other aquatic animals from the oceans. Yet despite all these things we need the ocean for we are constantly helping destroy it. How? Well, fourteen billion pounds of trash is deposited into oceans around the world each and every year. Farmers are helping with this problem greatly when they use non-organic fertilizers and pesticides. Whenever we go on a boat for recreation or fishing we end up dumping our waste into the water. This is very bad for the marine creatures in our area. Which is why I am giving you this information today. What is water pollution?bird on beach died because of water pollution. Farmers use fertilizers and pesticides which wash into the rivers or creeks that run by. Crawdads and fish live in there, along with frogs and bugs. We don't want to loose all that. People eat fish and they are very important to our lives. This is called surface water pollution. Sometimes these chemicals seep into our wells. Many people are dependent on these wells for drinking water. When the soil is contaminated by bacteria it enters the water, by the well, and we end up drinking it. People can become very ill after drinking this water. This is called ground water pollution. des bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. Many diseases are spread this way. One disease is cholera. Cholera affect people in poorer countries. Why? Simply because they do not have enough money (they`re poor remember) for an efficient and well working water filters. This is called microbiological water pollution. Many large industries use many different chemicals.These chemicals, once used, are useless to them. So, these chemicals are normally let run off into the water. Petroleum is inside of oil. When there is an oil spill not only does oil itself enter the water, petroleum does too(being inside the oil it kind of has too.)This is chemical water pollution. Plants need nutrients to survive. But nutrients come from waste water and fertilizers. Therefor if we want some plants to thrive we need to give them these essentials. If we give them too much, though, excessive algae and weeds will end up in the water. If these get caught in a water filter it can easily clog. This will lead to contaminated water, which will lead to ill people who could possibly die. This is nutrient pollution. Sometimes pollutants are too great in mass to dissolve into water molecules. This is called particulate matter, they float on the surface of the water. Eventually this matter settles on the bottom. This causes a thick layer of silt which is harmful to marine animals and plants. This is called suspended matter pollution. When biodegradable things are in the water microorganisms come to eat them. Too many microorganisms will use up all the oxygen in the water. If there is no more oxygen in the water plants and animals that need it will die. The good microorganisms (aerobic microorganisms) will die. The bad ones (anaerobic microorganisms) will thrive.These can be harmful to people, animals, and the environment because they produce dangerous toxins. This is oxygen depletion pollution. What are some of the consequences of water pollution? Water pollution has very many bad effects on the planet. One effect is that heavy metals will gather in nearby lakes, rivers, ponds and streams. Once ingested these metals can be very harmful to young and old alike. If a pregnant woman was to drink some of this water the baby could suffer from birth defects. Industrial waste can also harm the aquatic animals in the water. Like human babies, animals such as frogs could have severe birth defects. How? Well, the industrial waste products often contain many toxic compounds. Some have only mild effects whereas others can be fatal to the animals. Mild effects are things such as immune suppression, reproductive failure, or acute poisoning. Though these things may seem small, after awhile they could become great problems. Sewage can, and will, very often result in disease. Cholera and typhoid fever are very common results of pollution. These diseases are the main causes of infant mortality. The consequences mentioned above are just a few of the dangers. In the section What is Water Pollution? there is more information on this subject. What can be done to improve the quality of water after it has become polluted? One way we can help is by using a septic tank to dispose of waste. How does this help? Well, untreated sewage will run into the septic tank. Solids and liquids will then be separated. The solid material will be separated according to its mass (weight). Heavier material will settle at the bottom, whereas lighter material will float to the top. Biological processes will then be used to degrade the material. Another way the water can be treated is by going through a water treatment plant. First, the primary phase. The suspended matter, solid particles, and inorganic materials are then removed by a filter. Next, biological filters and the natural process are used to degrade the organic waste material. Finally the last stage, all solid materials are removed. Now the water is ready for reuse. Denitrification is a more natural way to help the water. Farmers will often apply fertilizers to their crops. The soil contains bacteria that turns the nitrogen in fertilizers into nitrates. This makes it easier for the plants to absorb the fertilizers from the ground. When this happens this prevents nitrates from leaching into the soil. Ozone waste water treatment is becoming a increasingly popular way to rid of pollution. Generators make oxygen into ozone using U. V (ultra violet) radiation or an electric discharge field. Ozone is useful because it can rid of bacteria quickly and efficiently. It also can oxidise iron and sulfur so they can be filtered out of the substance. There are also no bad odors or residues left when the treatment is finished. Ozone can and will quickly convert back to oxygen. One disadvantage of this treatment option is it requires a lot of time, money, and energy. Another one is that ozone can not remove dissolved minerals and salts. One final thing is that ozone wastewater treatment can produce by-products such as bromate that are unhealthy to humans. What are nitrates and how do they get in our water supply? A nitrate is a form of dissolved nitrogen in water. It is part nitrogen and part oxygen. It is highly soluble in water and very stable too. Nitrates can enter our water supply by many means. One way is through soil. Nitrates will seep into the soil. Then, when it rains, the nitrates will run off into rivers and streams. If the nitrate level is too high that can be a problem. What effect do high nitrates levels have on people? One effect high nitrate levels have on humans is methemoglobinemia. This is also known as blue baby syndrome. This is a condition mostly found in babies under six months. Sad huh? Stomach acids in a babies stomach are weaker then that of older people. This increases bact that can convert nitrate to nintrite. So do not let babies drink water that exceeds to ten mg. That also includes when preparing baby formulas. Those are the effects of high nitrate levels when drank by infants under six months of age. What is considered to be the safe level for nitrates in drinking water? The maximum contamination level is for drinking water is 45 mg. Any thing above this is unhealthy for infants and young children. A safe level would be below 45mg. What should a person do if there are high nitrate levels in their water supply? One way to clean your water is to distill it. You do this simply by boiling the water. The nitrates and other minerals will stay in the pot or boiling tank. Another way is to do a reverse osmosis. You do this by forcing the contaminated water through a filtering membrane. Up to two-thirds of the water will stay behind as rejected water. Another way is to do an ion-exchange. To do this you must take another substance, for example chloride, an switch it with the nitrates. You do this by putting the water in an ion-exchange unit that is filled with resin. The chloride will then take the nitrates place in the water and the nitrates will enter the resin beads. One final option is that you perform a Blending act. This is when you mix(or blend:) pure, clean water with dirty, contaminated water. The ending result is that the clean water overpowers the contaminated water and you end up with good water. But take caution and be sure young children and infants do not ingest this water, for it can be harmful to them. But, this water is healthy for adults and livestock. Though these things are good and well the best option would be to simply buy bottled water. Make sure you properly recycle them though! What can be done to prevent nitrates from getting into our water supplies? One thing you, yes you, can do is use organic fertilizers. Which is so hard, right? Wrong! All you have to do is go to the store, pick some up, and go home and use it like regular fertilizer! Another thing you can do is save water by turning off the tap when not in use. Do Not wash paints,oils,or other litter down the sink or toilet. If you have more plants in your garden you can prevent fertilizer run off. Please pick up any litter you find on the beach or on the side of the road. Just by doing these small things can make a big difference, not only in your area, but around the world!

Article posted November 4, 2010 at 10:20 AM • comment (1) • Reads 117 • Return to Blog List
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Posted Comments

I notice you and your class are really interested and concerned about the environment, but especially about the water and not just the water and the pollution to water, but pollution in general. Nicely stated (:
Posted December 2, 2010 at 08:35 PM by • Danielle S
Posted December 2, 2010 at 08:35 PM by • Danielle S

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