Chemical Pollution in Water – TEDTalk – Daniela Ramos

Ummmm…bye! *yeets out of screen* The four
main types of chemical pollution in water are metals and solvents, petroleum, and pesticides. Metals and Solvents are used during industrial
work. This waste is usually carried away by fresh
water and drained into lakes, rivers, and oceans. Asbestos, mineral fibres used for insulation,
is proven to cause lung cancer in humans, and is resistant to degradation, such as rotting
and burning, so it persists in the environment. Lead is a toxic, non-biodegradable substance
that halts the action of bodily enzymes. Nitrates and phosphates enter water through
excess fertilization, and can cause eutrophication which can single-handedly destroy habitats. In new jersey, Ford Motor Company dumped more than 35,000 tons of toxic paint
sludge onto protected land. This action poisoned miles of groundwater
with arsenic, lead, and other chemicals. Even now, 43 years later, those chemicals
still linger in the water there, threatening communities that use this water as their
major drinking water, not to mention animals and plants that live in this area. While clean up technologies and processes
may be specific to the contaminant, there are four main methods in use: physical removal
(with or without treatment), conversion to less toxic forms, containment, and natural
attenuation, which takes advantage of naturally occurring processes to eliminate waste. Pesticides are all the chemicals that are
used to control pests such as weeds, insects, and fungi. These chemicals are used in residential lawns
and farms, and due to excess irrigation and rainfall, are washed out of the land and into
nearby drain systems, lakes, streams, and other bodies of water. They are ingested by fish and other aquatic
organisms, which poisons them, and in turn, poisons any animal who eats those animals,
including humans. The health effects of pesticides vary depending
on the type of pesticide. Carbamates and organophosphates affect the
nervous system, while carcinogenic pesticides cause cancer. Most of these pesticides are persistent in
the environment and break down slowly, meaning the longer between the application of the
chemicals and rainfall, the less runoff is created. Neonicotinoids are the world’s most widely
used insecticide, but it has deadly consequences. Very little monitoring has been done on the
rivers in Britain though, and in 2016, when the European Union mandated tests, they found
that, out of 23 rivers tested, only 6 of them did not contain neonicotinoids. There are no official limits on the concentrations
of this pesticide, but scientists say that chronic levels should be avoided. As you have seen, pesticides have varying
but long-lasting negative effects on organisms, including us. Even though they are persistent, they can
be broken down. Microbial Activity in soil and in water can
help break down pesticides, as well as temperature of the area. Right now, the EPA, or Environmental Protection
Agency regulates the use of pesticides. Lawfully, all products containing pesticides
must be registered with the EPA before they can be sold or distributed. This registration means that the EPA has received
sufficient scientific data to prove that the pesticide is safe. Residential Gardens can use up to 10x more
toxic chemicals than farmers. This means the way YOU can help is educating
yourself about the effects of this pesticide you are using and following the correct usage
instructions. Petroleum, or oil, is a naturally occurring
oil that is mined by humans to be processed and turned into fuel. When it is being transported to other countries
overseas, there is a chance that there will be an oil spill, which can dump millions of
gallons of oil into the ocean, affecting ecosystems for miles. This oil floats over the water, preventing
sunlight from passing into underwater ecosystems and breaking down food chains that rely on
photosynthetic producers. It is so toxic that it penetrates the feathers
of birds, making them heavier so they can’t fly, and breaking down their insulating properties,
which leads to these birds dying of hypothermia, or simply, oil poisoning. Many baby animals starve to death when their
parents fail to locate them due to the oil masking their scent. Some animals may become blind from the exposure
to the oil, or swallow it accidentally from preening themselves, and die of its toxic
effects. The Gulf Oil Spill, or BP Oil Spill, is recognized
as the worst spill in US history. On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon Oil
Rig exploded and sank, killing 11 people. Days later, underwater cameras revealed that
the oil was leaking about 40 miles off the Louisiana coast. The spilling was only stopped 87 days later,
and by then 3.19 million barrels of oil had leaked into the gulf during the spill. There was a reported 22 mile long oil plume,
and as much as 20% of the oil sank to the seafloor damaging ecosystems and coral populations. All this oil is hard to clean up, but we have
methods that we are using to help with the process. The difficult part is that no oil spill is
alike. Many factors, such as how much oil is spilled
and what type of oil it is determine how it will affect different ecosystems. Local conditions also affect the oil spill
like wind direction and speed. The most basic method of oil cleanup is to
control the spread using physical barriers and scammers that filter the oil out of the
water. Sorbents that absorb oil and Dispersants that
break it down into smaller hydrophilic particles can also be used. Is that it? I’m done. ITS ALL GUCCI

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