Water Pollution

Water Pollution Nick Lambert 11/12/00 Physics CP (9-11) Ms. Monillas The societies of this world need to wake up, and not only listen to, but understand that it is time to find better ways of dealing with wastes, rather than nonchalantly dumping it into our oceans. For decades people in societies worldwide have taken advantage of the Earths waters simply by dumping whatever they do not want into them. Apparently our time of easy disposal has run out, the oceans and the life within our showing distinct signs of poor health. The continuous dumping (or traditional dumping) of industrial wastes as well as sewage and garbage into the oceans is beginning to show definite signs of pollution caused stress. The National Research Council recently published information stating that human intervention has begun to take its toll on the marine environment.

The ecological balance of oceans worldwide are at a dangerously unstable state, the effects of man-made pollutants introduced into the waters and seas are having severe consequences upon the marine life living there. There is much that needs to be accomplished before scientists can fully understand how bad our oceans and seas really are. Even more importantly, is the fact that environmental action must be taken now to reduce the oceans growing plight. Arguably the most contributing polluters to our oceans are the major industries of the world. Industrial ocean pollution has incorporated a wide variety of polluters, ranging from major oil spills dispersing toxic chlorinated hydrocarbons (the resultant of the breakdown of petroleum) to PCB=s (polychlorinated biphenyls) as well as DDT=s (dichloro-diphenyl trichloroethane, which is banned in the U.S. but still largely used in third world countries) all of which are used widely in chemical pesticides and detergents The introduction of oil into our oceans occurs in three major ways; by tanker accidents, faulty underwater pipelines, or oilrig blowouts. The times atlas of oceans lists one hundred eighty-six tanker accidents between the years 1970 – 1985. Each accident was given an estimated oil-spill of ten thousand barrels (1,130 tons) or more. Potentially more disastrous are the oilrig blowouts, since they are more difficult than the tanker accidents.

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For example, in January 1969 an underwater oil drill exploded in the Santa Barbara Channel off the California coast. For nearly two weeks crude oil was polluted into the channel at nearly twenty-one thousand gallons a day. To this day wildlife experts are calling this spill the worst to ever hit the California coast, affecting over thirty different beaches, and killing thousands of birds, seals, and dolphins as well as affecting hundreds of different species of fish. Oil breaks down into different compounds, depending on the molecular structure of the crude. It breaks down by the process of evaporation which leads to the process of dissolution, which in turn leads to emulsification and finally to biodegradation. Evaporation occurs after the first few hours after the oil has been introduced into the water. The best-known way to evaporate the crude is to set it on fire, but this can only be done within a few hours after the oil spill due to having sufficient amount of pure flammable oil to ignite.

After the evaporation process the dissolution process begins. The density of the oil will determine just how long the oil will stay at the surface of the water, or how long it will take for the oil slick to break apart and dilute itself. If the oil is relatively light then the period of dilution shall be relatively shorter. Whereas if the oil is heavier in mass, the outcome is a highly persistent water-in-oil emulsion of semi-solid lumps known as chocolate mousse or more appropriately called tar balls. The latter is potentially more dangerous in a sense that the breakdown period, as well as the outcome of these tar balls is unknown. One known outcome is for the tar balls to sink to the bottom of the ocean and lie undisturbed for an unknown period of time. Here scientists have discovered is where the turmoil begins to discretely affect the food chain.

The dilution of oil can affect the marine life in many deadly ways. The releases of toxic chlorinated hydrocarbons, as well as the clouds of chocolate mousse (tar balls) are just two examples of the breaking down and diluting of crude petroleum. Anne Simon, author of Neptunes Revenge, describes the effects of clouded water (due to oil pollution) upon the sea life as death due to lack of oxygen. Fish rely on oxygen to survive just as we humans do, but to obtain this oxygen the fish go through a completely different process of inhalation, as compared to humans. As a fish sucks water into its body, it also pushes water out of its thin-walled filament gills.

This is where the exchange of carbon dioxide for oxygen takes place. With each gulp of water a fish takes in seventy five percent of the oxygen in that water is distributed throughout the fishs bloodstream Therefore, if there is not enough oxygen in the water, or the gills of fish become clogged with oily sediments, then the fish will suffocate and die; hence the effect of oil-polluted clouds. This dilemma has been observed frequently in previous years, for example in 1988 a report published by Anastasia Toufexis in Time Magazine describes New Jerseys Raritan Bay, in which as much as one million Fluke and flounder were killed.. when they became trapped in anoxic water.. On the same note, the effects of toxic chlorinated hydrocarbons introduced into the oceans by the breaking down of oil have similar effects upon the marine life. Dr.

K.A. Gourlay reveals to us just how deadly toxic hydrocarbons are and how they not only affect the marine life, but the human population as well. Waste ingredients such as heavy metals, or toxic hydrocarbons, do not disintegrate easily, just the opposite however, they decompose very slowly and are all too often bioaccumulated in the flesh and tissues of fish and mammals, posing a direct threat to the human population as a major consumer of fish. A horrifying example of this was recorded when a small coastal town in Japan underwent a tragic epidemic. In 1953 the people and domestic cats there were suffering from severe neurological disorders that ultimately led to death.

After a lengthy investigation, it was discovered that both species (feline and human) were suffering from acute mercury p …