Aquatic Pollution: An Introductory Text

Aquatic Pollution: An Introductory Text

Aquatic Pollution: An Introductory Text

Aquatic Pollution: An Introductory Text


A clear, straightforward presentation of concepts and issues in aquatic pollution

This comprehensive introductory text presents a systematic study of pollution in oceans, lakes, streams, and underground aquifers. In a clear, straightforward style that is easily accessible to nonscientists, it describes the sources, features, and effects of thirteen different types of aquatic pollution.

Fully updated to reflect current understanding and recent developments, this Third Edition of Aquatic Pollution covers every aspect of pollution associated with urban runoff, acid rain, sewage disposal, pesticides, oil spills, nutrient loading, and more. Case studies of major pollution sites such as Lake Erie, Three Mile Island, and the Rocky Mountain Arsenal help to illustrate points made in the general discussion. Important features of this new edition include:

• Updated discussions of nonpoint source pollution, industrial pollution, thermal pollution, pathogens, metals, plastics, and more

• New case studies of Chesapeake Bay and the Exxon Valdez

• Beginning-of-chapter outlines

• End-of-chapter study questions

• New special section on units of measurement

• Four chapters on the fundamentals of ecology and toxicology

Aquatic Pollution, Third Edition, is a first-rate teaching and learning tool for courses in environmental science, zoology, oceanography, biology, and civil or sanitary engineering. It is also an excellent primer for policymakers and activists focused on environmental issues.


The last three decades of the 20th century have been a time of increasing environmental pressure from a human population that now numbers 6 billion persons and is expected to reach 8 billion by 2025. During this time, there has been a growing awareness that the resources of planet Earth are finite and that those resources must ultimately be managed in a sustainable manner. Water is one of the most important of those resources, and its availability for drinking, irrigation, recreation, and as a habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms has become an issue of great concern in many parts of the world. In central Asia, for example, large-scale irrigation of cotton and rice in the lowlands of Turan during the last quarter of the 20th century virtually dried up the Amu-Dar'ja and Syr-Dar'ja rivers, the principal tributaries of the Aral Sea. As a result, the Aral Sea, once the fourth largest lake in the world, shrank by 50% over a period of 30 years. As the Aral Sea dried up, it became more saline, and the once-thriving freshwater commercial fishery collapsed. The productivity of agricultural fields in the surrounding area dramatically declined as a result of the deposition of wind-blown salt from the exposed former seabed.

While the Aral Sea has been characterized as one of the Earth's greatest environmental disasters, it is by no means an isolated example. In a 1999 study supported by the World Bank and the United Nations, the World Commission on Water for the 21st Century concluded that over half of the world's major rivers were going dry or polluted. The report noted that the contamination of these rivers and surrounding watersheds had contributed to the creation of 25 million environmental refugees, a figure for the first time exceeding the world's 21 million war-related refugees.

Globally, about 80% of all diseases in developing countries are currently being spread by consumption of contaminated water. In those regions, waterborne pathogens and pollution kill an estimated 25 million persons each year, about one-third of all deaths in developing countries. The principal culprits are malaria, cholera, and typhoid fever. Even in an advanced nation such as the United States, an average of more than 40,000 persons each year contract cryptosporidiosis, an illness associated with prolonged diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, and fever caused by the waterborne protozoan Cryptosporidium. The organism is particularly troublesome because it can infect persons at a very low dose and produces encysted eggs that are not readily killed by chlorination. The eggs can be effectively removed from public water supplies only by filtration.

There have been some success stories. One of the most dramatic has been the recovery of Lake Washington in Seattle following diversion of sewage discharges during the 1960s. The response of the lake was described in the first edition of this book. Follow-up studies have continued to the present day, and an updated report on the status of Lake Washington is included in Chapter 4 of this edition of Aquatic Pollution. In 1987 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and various states surrounding the Chesapeake . . .

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