Water pollution has varied and drastic effects on the plant and animal life of our planet.
Plants encounter water pollution in the form of runoff and acid rain. Pollutants in water runoff affect plants in two main ways. First, they overwhelm and wash away nutrients essential to plant growth and other biological processes. Second, chemicals found in run off are often toxic to plant life and their introduction to a plant system will often result in the death of the plant. Furthermore, contaminated water can reduce soil quality preventing future plant generations from growing.
Acid rain occurs when sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide levels in the atmosphere become concentrated in rain clouds and come down mixed with rain water or in snow. These compounds then are introduced into soil and water sources, raising the pH levels and causing harm to plant life.
Animals face similar challenges from water pollution, runoff water carrying toxic contaminants Contaminated runoff and industrial wastes in water contributes to the deaths of thousands of species of fish, reptiles, mammals and amphibians each year. The contamination kills their offspring, destroys their food sources and poisons their living environment.
One serious contaminate of water that has broad negative effects on animal life is the chemical Mercury (Hg). Mercury can cause damage to the nervous system leading to detrimental behavioral changes in animals. Mercury also causes damage to major organ systems in animals. Mercury contamination in animals, especially fish, can also affect people. Fish from water sources with high mercury concentrations have lead to mercury poisoning in the people who consume the fish.
Water can be contaminated by any number of chemicals and toxins, Mercury is an important example of how a source of water pollution can have long reaching effects on both animals and people.
Written by: Ted Esparza