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Water Pollution


    So that you can become a water pollution expert, first we'll investigate different kinds of water pollution.  And when you're ready, you can help clean up an oil spill!

   One kind of water pollution, which is usually the most common, is called CONVENTIONAL and is made up of conventional pollutants.  Conventional pollutants are solid particles and matter found in our water.   Most of the pollution you can see is conventional.  Cans, bottles, paper--just about anything--can be a conventional pollutant. You can see conventional pollutants in the picture above.

     Conventional pollutants cause a wide variety of environmental problems.  The solids suspended in the water can block the sun's rays, and this blocking disrupts the carbon dioxide/oxygen conversion process. This process is vital to an aquatic food chain.  Sometimes the solid pollution is so bad, the water becomes unusable to humans and animals.  The best way to remove conventional pollutants is to run the water through a treatment plant.  In treatment plants the water is skimmed, run through several filters, and settled.  This removes about 60 percent of the pollutants.  The remaining pollution is decomposed by tiny pollution-eating microorganisms. Microorganisms are living things that are so tiny you need a microscope to see them.

    Another type of pollution is called NON-CONVENTIONAL and is made up of non-conventional pollutants.  Non-conventional pollutants are more dangerous to the environment than conventional pollutants.  Non-conventional pollutants are dissolved metals, both toxic (harmful) and nontoxic (not harmful).  Many factories dump these pollutants into the water as byproducts of their production process.  The most devastating type of non-conventional pollution is an oil spill.  More than 13,000 oil spills occur each year in the United States.

Non-conventional water pollutants have polluted this water.

    Non-conventional pollutants are difficult to remove because they are dissolved in the water.  Even though you can't see them most of the time, they are dangerous.  Microorganisms, like the ones used to eat pollution in water treatment facilities, are the best way to get rid of non-conventional pollution.  However, not all pollution can be removed from the water -- even with the most advanced technology.

Click on the pictures below to learn more about fighting pollution.

Learn how environmental workers clean up oil spills.

Clean up a virtual oil spill yourself.

Learn how you can help prevent pollution.

Photos courtesy of David Rockwell, the EPA, and U.S. Coast Guard.


Water Pollution Down the Tubes Make a Water Cycle Dolphin Diary What to Drink? Water Striders Dragonfly Home

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