Understanding Pollution: The Dangers of Fracking

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Recently, there has been a great deal of talk about the benefits and dangers of a process known as “fracking.”  If, like me, you aren’t entirely sure what means then, no worries.  I decided to find out.  Fracking, or as it is officially known hydraulic fracturing, is a process where water and chemicals are pumped into the ground at extremely high pressures in order to break up deposits of shale so that the shale can be extracted as natural gas or oil.[i]  Sounds innovative, but what are the costs associated with such an undertaking?

fracking 1

To begin with, fracturing requires a ton of water.  All in all, there are 500,000 active gas wells in the United States, and each gas well requires roughly 8 million gallons of water per fracking attempt, and a well can be fracked about 18 times before it is finished.  That equals a total of 72 trillion gallons of water used for the fracking industry.[ii]  72 trillion gallons of water that cannot then be used for drinking water, irrigation, or most other uses.  Why?  Because of the chemicals that are mixed in with the water in order to break up the shale.  Chemicals like hydrochloric and boric acid, which are acids which means they aren’t the safest chemicals on the planet, and definitely not something I want in my water.[iii]  Just for those who don’t know, hydrochloric acid is used in the production of chlorides, fertilizers, and dyes, and is corrosive to the eyes, skin, and mucous membrane, esophagus, and stomachs of humans.[iv]  Altogether, it is estimated that six hundred different chemicals are used in the hydraulic fracturing process.[v]  Those chemicals, sadly, do not stay where they are supposed to.  Concentrations of Methane gas are 17 times higher in ground water near fracking wells, than the rest of the country, and there have been 1000 documented cases of water contamination near fracking sites.[vi]  The worst part is that the chemicals used in fracking are not all recovered.  Recent reports have revealed that up to 80% of these chemicals are left underground after the completion of the fracking process.[vii]

Another concern of fracking is the different health effects that can occur from exposure to all of the chemicals used.  An article written in 2011 found that 75% of the chemicals used in fracking could have effects on human skin, eyes, and our other sensory organs, and that 50% of the chemicals used could affect our immune, cardiovascular, and nervous systems.[viii]  So, to sum up only 50% of the chemicals used in fracking can affect our immune system, which keeps us healthy, our cardiovascular system, which transports oxygen through our blood, and our nervous system which is our brain!  While the Environmental Protection Agency is still continuing its review of the effects of fracking, that is not stopping those who live near fracking wells from reporting increased health problems with almost 40% of those living within a kilometer of a fracking well reporting upper respiratory problems.[ix]  Because fracking is only about ten years old, there has not been enough time to discover the long term effects of it on human health or the environment, and while the EPA is preparing a report, and has been for three years, fracking still continues.  Some towns have even taken the situation into their own hands with the town of Denton Texas banning fracking in their town on November 04 2014.[x]  While there is no doubt that both the fracking industry, and possibly the state government, will seek to challenge the ban, still the people are worried enough about their health to take action.

As mentioned earlier, fracking has only been around for about ten years, but its effects on the environment are already starting to pile up.  For one, there is the contamination of soil and ground water as the chemicals used in the fracking process are left in the ground, and are not biodegradable.[xi]  In fact, the town of Pavillion, Wyoming have just recently had the EPA confirm that their ground drinking water has been contaminated from the fracking process.[xii]  You then have to worry about what happens if there is a spill.  In July of 2014 a million gallons of wastewater from a fracking plant was spilt in a river in North Dakota killing plant and animal life along the river, and is now traveling working its way to Lake Sakakawea, which is a main source of drinking water in the area.[xiii]  That is the damage being reported from just one, relatively small, spill of just wastewater.  Imagine if the spill had contained the tar sands that shale is found in, and is much more difficult to clean up.  Incidentally, fracking has also been linked to an increase in earthquakes and tremors in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.[xiv]

fracking 2

Fracking is an industry that proponents claim will usher in a golden age of energy independence in the United States.  That may be true, if the industry can continue to access the shale at cost efficient levels.  However, can we truly ignore the problems that are more and more being associated with fracking?  I don’t have the answer, and even if I did I’m not a policy maker in the US government with the power to make that determination.  But I do know that we, the people who see the dangers and devastating effects of fracking on our health and wellbeing, as well as to our planet, have the right to make our voices heard.  There is a growing group of people who are speaking out against fracking, proving that the people can cause change if they work together.  As the evidence continues to mount as to the effects of fracking we must make sure that profit does not trump the environment, human health, and our very lives.


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About the Author

Dom resizeDominick Principe is a graduate of Rowan University with dual Bachelor Degrees in Elementary Education and Writing Arts.  He is a prolific reader who devours any book put before him, and feels that life is one great long book without an end.  He fills his hours constantly exploring new information, and seeking to educate himself in the ways of the world.  He puts all of that knowledge and his passion for learning to good use teaching English as a second language to students of all ages.  When his nose isn’t buried in a book, or in class teaching, then he can generally be found typing away at his computer working on some random piece of writing that he was inspired to do.


[i] “What Is Fracking.” What Is Fracking. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. <http://www.what-is-fracking.com/&gt;.

[ii] “What Goes In & Out of Hydraulic Fracking.” Dangers of Fracking. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. <http://www.dangersoffracking.com/&gt;.

[iii] “What Chemicals Are Used.” FracFocus Chemical Disclosure Registry. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. <https://fracfocus.org/chemical-use/what-chemicals-are-used&gt;.

[iv] “Hydrochloric Acid (Hydrogen Chloride).” EPA. Environmental Protection Agency. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. <http://www.epa.gov/ttnatw01/hlthef/hydrochl.html&gt;.

[v] “What Goes In & Out of Hydraulic Fracking.” Dangers of Fracking. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. <http://www.dangersoffracking.com/&gt;.

[vi] “What Goes In & Out of Hydraulic Fracking.” Dangers of Fracking. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. <http://www.dangersoffracking.com/&gt;.

[vii] “Fracking Chemicals Cited in Congressional Report Stay Underground.” Top Stories RSS. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. <http://www.propublica.org/article/fracking-chemicals-cited-in-congressional-report-stay-underground&gt;.

[viii] “Geology and Human HealthTopical Resources.” Potential Health and Environmental Effects of Hydrofracking in the Williston Basin, Montana. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. <http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/health/case_studies/hydrofracking_w.html&gt;.

[ix] Koch, Wendy. “People near ‘fracking’ Wells Report Health Woes.” USA Today. Gannett, 10 Sept. 2014. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. <http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/09/10/people-near-fracking-wells-health-symptoms/15337797/&gt;.

[x] “Battle Lines Drawn After Texas Town Bans Fracking.” NPR. NPR. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. <http://www.npr.org/2014/11/06/362086784/battle-lines-drawn-after-texas-town-bans-fracking&gt;.

[xi] “What Goes In & Out of Hydraulic Fracking.” Dangers of Fracking. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. <http://www.dangersoffracking.com/&gt;.

[xii] “Geology and Human HealthTopical Resources.” Potential Health and Environmental Effects of Hydrofracking in the Williston Basin, Montana. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. <http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/health/case_studies/hydrofracking_w.html&gt;.

[xiii] “‘Saltwater’ From Fracking Spill Is Not What’s Found in the Ocean.” Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. <http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-07-16/-saltwater-from-fracking-spill-is-not-what-s-found-in-the-ocean.html&gt;.

[xiv] “How Oil and Gas Disposal Wells Can Cause Earthquakes.” Texas RSS. National Public Radio. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. <http://stateimpact.npr.org/texas/tag/earthquake/&gt;.

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Understanding Pollution: How Fantastic is Plastic?

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Plastic, an invention that was only created a little over 150 years ago, has come to revolutionize our world.[i]  We use it to create everything from shopping bags to computers and cellphones.  Everything seems to be made from plastic these days, but like everything else there are always consequences.  Plastic is not a naturally occurring element.  There are dozens of different types of plastics, and all of them are made from different chemicals.[ii]  So, as is the case whenever I want to learn something new…I did.  Many of these chemicals have harmful effects to both humans and the environment.  There is also the fact that there is so much plastic with it being estimated that next year over 300 million tons of plastic will be created worldwide.[iii]

Plastic 1

In 2009 over 110 million tons of plastic were created worldwide which is more than double the amount that was created 60 years ago in the 1950s.[iv]  Where is all of that plastic going?  Well, sadly, in the United States only 6.5% of it is being recycled, and 7.7% of it is being burned, I’ll get to that in a minute, the rest is making its way into landfills and the oceans of the world.[v]  The problem with putting plastic into landfills, and dumping it into oceans is that plastic takes a long, long time to biodegrade, or naturally breakdown into its composing parts.  It is estimated that it takes up to 1000 years for plastic to naturally break down on its own.[vi]  I say estimated because we only invented plastic a little over a hundred and fifty years ago, in 1839.[vii]  That being the case, we actually haven’t seen plastic that breaks down on its own yet, and 1000 years is what scientists believe it will take to do so.  Throwing plastic into the oceans doesn’t work either, and it is believed that every piece of plastic thrown into the oceans over the last 50 years is still floating along somewhere.[viii]  In fact, there is so much plastic in the oceans that an island twice the size of the state of Texas is forming about 500 miles off the coast of California that is made up of 7 billion pounds of plastic.[ix] Needless to say, that’s a lot of plastic.  Having established that; what are the dangers of plastic?

Remember when I mentioned that 7.7% of plastic in the United States is burned, and that I’d get back to that?  I’m back to it.  Burning plastic is one of the most harmful things that you can do. The reason is that plastic is not naturally occurring, and there are thousands of chemicals that combine to create plastic.[x]  When you burn plastic you are releasing those chemicals into the air where they can have an impact on your health, and the health of others.[xi]  The most dangerous of these chemicals are called dioxins.  “Dioxins are a class of chemical contaminants that are formed during combustion processes such as waste incineration, forest fires, and backyard trash burning, as well as during some industrial processes…”[xii]  Short term exposure to dioxins can cause skin lesions, and affect your liver; while chronic exposure can lead to an impaired immune system, damage to the reproductive systems, and in children can affect their nervous system as it develops.[xiii]  Another dangerous thing about plastics is what is known as leaching.  Leaching is when chemicals that are in plastic leak, or leach, into the food or drinks that are encase.[xiv]  Most of the chemicals have an effects similar to estrogen, which is the main hormone for female development, but the male body produces it as well.[xv]  The most concerning of these chemicals is Bisphenol A, more commonly known as BPA, which can disrupt breast development, and predispose women to breast cancer later in life.[xvi]

The effects that plastics have on the environment are equally severe.  Just as plastic leaches into our food and water so too does it leach into the ground, and the oceans into which we toss it.[xvii]  Though landfills will try to contain plastic leakage, often it is not enough and the chemicals from plastics will work their way into the ground, and into surface and underground water supplies.[xviii]  Remember that plastic can be made from thousands of different chemicals, and any of them, including dioxin, could find their way into your water or food supply. Plastic in the water also serves as a transportation system for different bacteria, and other invasive species which can wreak absolute havoc on ecosystems that have no defense mechanisms against those invaders.[xix] Other dangers of plastics are fairly well known.  Almost everyone has seen the pictures of birds being strangled by uncut plastic wrap, but not many know that plastic also wraps around and kills coral, and of the 500,000 albatross chicks that are born every year almost half of them die from eating plastic.[xx]

Plastic 2

Plastic was a great invention that truly has enormous potential.  It is sturdy, long lasting, and can be formed into many different shapes to serve different purposes.  It is a fascinating material.  The problem lies in the fact that we are not being responsible with it. Better and more efficient ways need to be found to dispose of plastic waste, before we have an island, not twice the size of Texas, but a continent the size of North America.  There are problems in this world, and plastic may seem to be a trivial one, but trivial problems have a habit of spiraling out of control until you have one big mess on your hands.  What can you do to help?  Well, for one recycle your plastic.  For all its downfalls it is a useful material.  For another, volunteer to clean up your neighborhood park, or adopt a road.  Little actions can have monumental effects if enough people attempt them.


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About the Author

Dom resizeDominick Principe is a graduate of Rowan University with dual Bachelor Degrees in Elementary Education and Writing Arts.  He is a prolific reader who devours any book put before him, and feels that life is one great long book without an end.  He fills his hours constantly exploring new information, and seeking to educate himself in the ways of the world.  He puts all of that knowledge and his passion for learning to good use teaching English as a second language to students of all ages.  When his nose isn’t buried in a book, or in class teaching, then he can generally be found typing away at his computer working on some random piece of writing that he was inspired to do.


[i] “The History of Plastic.” About.com Inventors. About.com. Web. 28 Nov. 2014. <http://inventors.about.com/od/pstartinventions/a/plastics.htm&gt;.

[ii] “Dangerous Health Effects of Home Burning of Plastics and Waste.” WECF.EU. Women in Europe for a Common Future. Web. 28 Nov. 2014. <http://www.wecf.eu/cms/download/2004-2005/homeburning_plastics.pdf&gt;.

[iii] “The Environmental Toll of Plastics.” — Environmental Health News. Web. 28 Nov. 2014. <http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/dangers-of-plastic&gt;.

[iv] “What Happens to All That Plastic? – State of the Planet.” State of the Planet What Happens to All That Plastic Comments. Web. 28 Nov. 2014. <http://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2012/01/31/what-happens-to-all-that-plastic/&gt;.

[v] “What Happens to All That Plastic? – State of the Planet.” State of the Planet What Happens to All That Plastic Comments. Web. 28 Nov. 2014. <http://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2012/01/31/what-happens-to-all-that-plastic/&gt;.

[vi] “What Happens to All That Plastic? – State of the Planet.” State of the Planet What Happens to All That Plastic Comments. Web. 28 Nov. 2014. <http://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2012/01/31/what-happens-to-all-that-plastic/&gt;.

[vii] “The History of Plastic.” About.com Inventors. About.com. Web. 28 Nov. 2014. <http://inventors.about.com/od/pstartinventions/a/plastics.htm&gt;.

[viii] “Impact of Plastic Waste on Oceans, Beaches and the EnvironmentShare.”Www.reuseit.com/. Web. 28 Nov. 2014. <http://www.reuseit.com/facts-and-myths/impact-of-plastic-waste-on-oceans-beaches-and-the-environment.htm&gt;.

[ix] “Impact of Plastic Waste on Oceans, Beaches and the EnvironmentShare.”Www.reuseit.com/. Web. 28 Nov. 2014. <http://www.reuseit.com/facts-and-myths/impact-of-plastic-waste-on-oceans-beaches-and-the-environment.htm&gt;.

[x] Landa, Dr. “More than 24,500 Chemicals Found in Bottled Water.” Fox News. FOX News Network, 13 Jan. 2014. Web. 28 Nov. 2014. <http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/01/13/more-than-24500-chemicals-found-in-bottled-water/&gt;.

[xi] “Dangerous Health Effects of Home Burning of Plastics and Waste.” WECF.EU. Women in Europe for a Common Future. Web. 28 Nov. 2014. <http://www.wecf.eu/cms/download/2004-2005/homeburning_plastics.pdf&gt;.

[xii] “Dioxins.” Definition Page. Web. 28 Nov. 2014. <http://toxics.usgs.gov/definitions/dioxins.html&gt;.

[xiii] “Dioxins and Their Effects on Human Health.” WHO. Web. 28 Nov. 2014. <http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs225/en/&gt;.

[xiv] “Study: Most Plastics Leach Hormone-Like Chemicals.” NPR. NPR. Web. 28 Nov. 2014. <http://www.npr.org/2011/03/02/134196209/study-most-plastics-leach-hormone-like-chemicals&gt;.

[xv] “Testosterone and Estrogen Balance in Men – HowStuffWorks.” HowStuffWorks. Web. 28 Nov. 2014. <http://health.howstuffworks.com/sexual-health/male-reproductive-system/testosterone-and-estrogen-balance-in-men.htm&gt;.

[xvi] “Chemicals in Plastics.” Chemicals in Plastics. Web. 28 Nov. 2014. <http://www.breastcancerfund.org/clear-science/environmental-breast-cancer-links/plastics/&gt;.

[xvii] “News & Issues.” Plastics in Depth. Web. 28 Nov. 2014. <http://www.eurekarecycling.org/page.cfm?ContentID=126&gt;.

[xviii] “News & Issues.” Plastics in Depth. Web. 28 Nov. 2014. <http://www.eurekarecycling.org/page.cfm?ContentID=126&gt;.

[xix] “The Environmental Toll of Plastics.” — Environmental Health News. Web. 28 Nov. 2014. <http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/dangers-of-plastic&gt;.

[xx] “Impact of Plastic Waste on Oceans, Beaches and the EnvironmentShare.”Www.reuseit.com/. Web. 28 Nov. 2014. <http://www.reuseit.com/facts-and-myths/impact-of-plastic-waste-on-oceans-beaches-and-the-environment.htm&gt;.

Understanding Pollution: Irreversible Changes Global Warming, Oil Spills and Eutrophication Have on Our Water Supply

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In the ever-changing world in which we live, there is only one constant:  Water.  Throughout the history of the earth continents have shifted, land masses have risen up, and sunk, but through it all there has been water.  As mankind has advanced we have done so through water.  The earliest human settlements were near water sources, and as civilization expanded it did so by following along the rivers, lakes, and oceans of the world.  Why?  Because without water there is no life.  Despite the fact that water is so essential to life, humanity’s actions are having a negative impact on the water sources that are so vital to us all.  Actions such as the release of greenhouse gases which are increasing global warming, the spilling of oil into oceans, rivers, and lakes, and the release of chemicals into water sources causing eutrophication.

water pollution 3a

Many people argue the existence of global warming.  Yet, a recent report published by the United Nations has claimed that if something is not done to, at the very least, reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases then the world will be locked into an irreversible course of climate change.[i]   The report has caused UN secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to urge world leaders to act, and to quote the a UN press release concerning the report “if left unchecked, climate change will increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.”[ii], The impact of global warming on water supplies is Threefold.  Firstly, as global warming causes the temperature of the water to rise it can devastate plant and aquatic animal life as they are unable to adapt to the increased temperature.[iii]  That may not seem like a big deal, until you consider the fact that 70-80% of the world’s oxygen comes from marine plant life.[iv]  Secondly, as the temperatures rise the polar ice caps are melting at a rate of 4% a decade, and Antarctica and Greenland are losing land mass[v].  Finally, as temperatures rise, and population continues to expand, there is an increased risk of desertification, which is the turning of land into desert[vi].  Let me break down desertification a bit.  No water equals no fertile land which equals no agriculture!  There goes our food supply. Global warming is not something that can be ignored.  It is having an impact on every aspect of the world’s ecosystems, from desert to ocean, and rainforest to urban cities.  As the UN report reveals that they are 95% certain that global warming is the results of man’s actions, are we really going to argue over the remaining 5%?  Or are we going to take action to ensure that future generations actually have a world to call home?

water pollution 3b

Anyone who has even seen images from an oil spill will agree the damage that oil can cause is tremendous.  One of the greatest dangers of oil is that even though water is known as the universal solvent, oil does not dissolve in water.[vii]  Instead of dissolving, oil simply gathers into a thick sludge on the water.  This sludge causes fish to suffocate, gathers on the feathers of birds weighing them down and denying them flight, and blocks light from reaching aquatic plant which leads to their demise.[viii]  Obviously, all of this devastates marine ecosystems.  The truly worrying thought is that as disastrous as oil spills are they account for only 12 percent of oil that enters the oceans.  The other 88% comes from shipping travel, drains and dumping.[ix]  It is estimated that 29 million gallons of oil enter the waters around North America alone.[x]  Think of the damage that is being done to the marine ecosystems around the world.  Then think about the long term damage that is being done to the waters of the world, which are essential for human life.

water pollution 3c

Eutrophication.  A word that most people have probably never heard before.  However, the effect that this word has on the waters of the world cannot be ignored.  Eutrophication is “The process by which a body of water acquires a high concentration of nutrients, especially phosphates and nitrates. These typically promote excessive growth of algae. As the algae die and decompose, high levels of organic matter and the decomposing organisms deplete the water of available oxygen, causing the death of other organisms, such as fish. Eutrophication is a natural, slow-aging process for a water body, but human activity greatly speeds up the process.”[xi] Phosphates and nitrates can come from such varied sources as fertilizer, sewage, or other artificial sources of nutrients.[xii]  Eutrophication is one of the most common dangers that face inland water supplies worldwide.  The problem with eutrophication is that there are so many different types of algae that can form.  Some algae can release toxins into the waters, while others can inhibit the ability of those who drink the water to take in oxygen.[xiii]  The only way to truly deal with eutrophication is to ensure that chemicals are not added into our water supplies.  While this process will naturally occur in older lakes, we should not exacerbate the issue by further polluting inland water.

water pollution 3d

Pollution can come in many forms and guises, but they all have one effect:  to degrade the environment around us.  The fact that we as a culture allow some of the most important resources on this planet to be polluted is a mark of our disregard for the future and our own welfare.  There are three things that are necessary for human survival:  Food, Water, and Oxygen.  While we can grow our own food, it requires water and oxygen to do so, and we continue to pollute.


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About the Author

Dom resizeDominick Principe is a graduate of Rowan University with dual Bachelor Degrees in Elementary Education and Writing Arts.  He is a prolific reader who devours any book put before him, and feels that life is one great long book without an end.  He fills his hours constantly exploring new information, and seeking to educate himself in the ways of the world.  He puts all of that knowledge and his passion for learning to good use teaching English as a second language to students of all ages.  When his nose isn’t buried in a book, or in class teaching, then he can generally be found typing away at his computer working on some random piece of writing that he was inspired to do.


[i] Warrick, Joby, and Chris Mooney. “Effects of Climate Change ‘irreversible,’ U.N. Panel Warns in Report.” WashingtonPost.com. Washington Post, 2 Nov. 2014. Web. 4 Nov. 2014. <Effects of climate change ‘irreversible,’ U.N. panel warns in report>.

[ii] “‘Leaders Must Act,’ Urges Ban, as New UN Report Warns Climate Change May Soon Be ‘irreversible’.” Un.org. United Nations, 2 Nov. 2014. Web. 4 Nov. 2014. <‘Leaders must act,’ urges Ban, as new UN report warns climate change may soon be ‘irreversible’>.

[iii] “Global Warming « Water Pollution Guide.” Global Warming « Water Pollution Guide. The Guides Network. Web. 4 Nov. 2014. <http://www.water-pollution.org.uk/globalwarming.html&gt;.

[iv] “The Most Important Organism? | Ecology Global Network.” Ecology Global Network. Ecology Global Network. Web. 12 Nov. 2014. <http://www.ecology.com/2011/09/12/important-organism/&gt;.

[v] “Of Warming and Warnings.” The Economist. The Economist Newspaper, 3 Nov. 2014. Web. 4 Nov. 2014. <http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21630639-most-comprehensive-climate-report-yet-issues-its-shots-across-bow-warming-and&gt;.

[vi] “EU and FAO Step up Action against Desertification in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific.”Preventionweb.net. The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, 22 Oct. 2014. Web. 3 Nov. 2014. <http://www.preventionweb.net/english/professional/news/v.php?id=40016&gt;.

[vii] “Everyday Chemistry – Why Doesn’t Oil Dissolve in Water?” Everyday Chemistry – Why Doesn’t Oil Dissolve in Water? The Human Touch of Chemistry. Web. 4 Nov. 2014. <http://humantouchofchemistry.com/why-doesnt-oil-dissolve-in-water.htm&gt;.

[viii] “Oil Pollution « Water Pollution Guide.” Oil Pollution « Water Pollution Guide. The Guides Network. Web. 4 Nov. 2014. <http://www.water-pollution.org.uk/oilpollution.html&gt;.

[ix] “Oil Pollution « Water Pollution Guide.” Oil Pollution « Water Pollution Guide. The Guides Network. Web. 4 Nov. 2014. <http://www.water-pollution.org.uk/oilpollution.html&gt;.

[x] “National-Academies.org | Where the Nation Turns for Independent, Expert Advice.”National-Academies.org | Where the Nation Turns for Independent, Expert Advice. The National Academies. Web. 4 Nov. 2014. <http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=10388&gt;.

[xi] “Eutrophication.” Definition Page. United States Geological Survey. Web. 30 Oct. 2014. <http://toxics.usgs.gov/definitions/eutrophication.html&gt;.

[xii] “Eutrophication.” Definition Page. United States Geological Survey. Web. 12 Nov. 2014. <http://toxics.usgs.gov/definitions/eutrophication.html&gt;.

[xiii] “Why Is Eutrophication Such A Serious Pollution Problem?” Why Is Eutrophication Such A Serious Pollution Problem? United Nations Environment Programme. Web. 4 Nov. 2014. <http://www.unep.or.jp/ietc/publications/short_series/lakereservoirs-3/1.asp&gt;.

Understanding Pollution: How Acid Rain and Other Industrial Chemicals Destroy the World around Us

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The greatest and most precious resource to be found on planet earth is the abundance of water.  Water which is the building block of all cells, and without which there would be no life.  Yet, as mankind has advanced we have been willfully blind to the effects that our actions are having on water.  Everyone knows the dangers of radiation; so imagine if our water supplies were to become irradiated.  We use storage tanks to hold dangerous liquids and gases underground to ensure they do not impact our lives.  Imagine if those tanks were to, not even break, but simply leak while remembering that just over 30% of fresh water is ground water.[i]  Finally, think of the effects that acid rain has on buildings of stone that have stood for centuries.  Then, think of the effects that that same acid rain is having on marine ecosystems around the world.

water pollution 2a

Radioactive wastes.  Two very simple words that should instill one with a sense of worry.  Radioactive wastes is defined by The Macmillan Dictionary as “The harmful waste that is produced while making nuclear energy.”[ii]  Everything that poses a danger to humanity on the scale that radiation does should be regulated, and in the United States radioactive waste is regulated by the Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards.[iii]  The problem is that government regulations allow radioactive water to be released from power plants to the environment containing “permissible” levels of contamination. However, since there is no safe threshold to exposure to radiation, permissible does not mean safe.”[iv]  According to River Keeper the Indian Point plant releases over 100 different types of isotopes, and in February 2000 an accident at the plant discharged 20,000 gallons of radioactive coolant.  That is bad enough, but the same month 200 gallons of irradiated water were released into the Hudson River[v], Water, which is our most vital resource, is being exposed to radiation which has the potential to permanently degrade any cells that it comes into contact with.  The majority of radioactive waste water pollution originates from the European continent, and traces of that radiation have been found in waters over 2000 miles away from the European coasts.[vi] That says the majority, not all.  Remember Fukushima?  That was a nuclear power plant in Japan that had a meltdown a back in 2011.  Currently, a couple of years after the disaster, radiation from Fukushima is being detected in the waters of the West Coast of the U.S.A.[vii] Radiation is one of the greatest dangers to mankind in existence, and we are allowing our waters to become poisoned by it.

water pollution 2d

Atmospheric deposition, which is more commonly known as acid rain, is a danger to both land and sea.  Acid rain is created when certain chemicals, such as sulfur and nitrogen, mix with rain clouds.  Acid rain then falls upon both the land and the sea.  On land, it can cause damage to the environment, buildings, plant and animal life, and man.  In the seas it can kill off marine life, and raises the acidity of the water.[viii]  The main cause of these chemicals entering the atmosphere and mixing with rain clouds is industry.  As the acidity of oceans rises this can lead to many damaging effects.  The most obvious of these effects is the death of marine and plant life which cannot survive in acidic waters, but it also has the potential to lower the level of nutrients in the water.  Over time this will cause even more marine life deaths.[ix]  Acid rain’s effects on land are equally severe.  It can erode manmade structures, kill plant and animal life, and cause damage to humans as well.[x]  Just from the name, acid rain, you know it is not a good thing.  Atmospheric deposition has sources both natural and manmade.  Its natural sources are volcanoes and decaying vegetation.  Its manmade sources are mainly emissions of sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide.[xi]  As it results naturally in nature it is difficult to combat acid rain.  However, as man has contributed to the frequency and intensity of acid rain, we have an imperative to minimize the damage that is caused to our land and waters.

water pollution 2b

Underground storage tanks are found in every community in the United States[xii].  They are used to store dangerous and toxic chemicals and gases.  Sadly, out of sight out of mind doesn’t mean they’re gone.  Storage tanks that were constructed before the year 1980 were made of steel.[xiii]  Steel, which is a metal that if exposed to the elements will rust.  Since 1989 in the state of Indiana over 4300 underground storage tanks have leaked.[xiv]  That is just one state in one country. Leaking tanks have the potential to contaminate not just the soil around them, but above ground drinking water sources, below ground drinking water sources, recreational water bodies, and they can also have an impact on property values.[xv]  Responsibility is not something that can be ignored.  As these tanks are manmade structures, then mankind is responsible for the damage that is caused by them.  While it is true that the sins of earlier generation should not be visited upon the living…they are.  It is time for us to take responsibility and find a way to resolve the problems that have arisen with these leaking tanks.

water pollution 2c

It is said that progress cannot be stopped, and it is true that mankind has progressed greatly throughout the centuries.  While progress cannot be stopped, still the problems that arise from progress’ continuing march must be met.  Acid rain, nuclear waste, and underground storage tanks are all either fully manmade, or greatly exacerbated by man.  This being the case, it is up to mankind as a whole to find a way to deal with the difficulties that arise from them.  No one wishes to live in a dying wasteland, but if we do not work together to protect our most valuable resources, namely water and the environment, then we will find ourselves living in a world that none of us will enjoy.


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About the Author

Dom resizeDominick Principe is a graduate of Rowan University with dual Bachelor Degrees in Elementary Education and Writing Arts.  He is a prolific reader who devours any book put before him, and feels that life is one great long book without an end.  He fills his hours constantly exploring new information, and seeking to educate himself in the ways of the world.  He puts all of that knowledge and his passion for learning to good use teaching English as a second language to students of all ages.  When his nose isn’t buried in a book, or in class teaching, then he can generally be found typing away at his computer working on some random piece of writing that he was inspired to do.


[i] “Ground Water Discharge-The Water Cycle.” USGS. United States Geological Survey. Web. 3 Nov. 2014.

[ii] “Radioactive Waste.” – Definition. American English Definition of with Pronunciation by Macmillan Dictionary. Macmillan Dictionary. Web. 10 Nov. 2014. <http://www.macmillandictionary.com/us/dictionary/american/radioactive-waste&gt;.

[iii] “Radioactive Waste.” NRC:. US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Web. 10 Nov. 2014. <http://www.nrc.gov/waste.html&gt;.

[iv] “Radioactive Waste and Pollution.” Riverkeeper RSS. River Keeper. Web. 3 Nov. 2014. <http://www.riverkeeper.org/campaigns/stop-polluters/indian-point/radioactive-waste/&gt;.

[v] “Radioactive Waste and Pollution.” Riverkeeper RSS. River Keeper. Web. 3 Nov. 2014. <http://www.riverkeeper.org/campaigns/stop-polluters/indian-point/radioactive-waste/&gt;.

[vi] “Nuclear Waste – How It Is Produced « Water Pollution Guide.” Nuclear Waste – How It Is Produced « Water Pollution Guide. Web. 3 Nov. 2014. <http://www.water-pollution.org.uk/nuclearwaste.html&gt;.

[vii] Loew, Tracy. “Scientists: Test West Coast for Fukushima Radiation.” Usatoday.com/. USA Today, 9 Mar. 2014. Web. 12 Nov. 2014. <http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/03/09/scientists-test-west-coast-for-fukushima-radiation/6213849/&gt;.

[viii] “The Oceans Feel Impacts from Acid Rain.” Oceanus Magazine. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 1 Apr. 2008. Web. 30 Oct. 2014. <http://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/feature/the-oceans-feel-impacts-from-acid-rain&gt;.

[ix] “Environmental Effects of Acid Rain.” EPA. Environmental Protection Agency. Web. 3 Nov. 2014. <http://www.epa.gov/region1/eco/acidrain/enveffects.html&gt;.

[x] “Your Cool Facts and Tips on Air Pollution.” ESchoolToday. Web. 29 Oct. 2014. <http://eschooltoday.com/pollution/air-pollution/effects-of-air-pollution.html&gt;.

[xi] “What Is Acid Rain?” EPA. Environmental Protection Agency. Web. 3 Nov. 2014. <http://www.epa.gov/acidrain/what/&gt;.

[xii] “Protecting The Nation’s Drinking Water From Leaking Underground Storage Tanks.”EPA.gov. Environmental Protection Agency. Web. 3 Nov. 2014. <Protecting The Nation’s Drinking Water From Leaking Underground Storage Tanks>.

[xiii] “Underground Storage Leakages « Water Pollution Guide.” Underground Storage Leakages « Water Pollution Guide. The Guides Network. Web. 3 Nov. 2014. <http://www.water-pollution.org.uk/undergroundstorage.html&gt;.

[xiv] “Indiana Department of Environmental Management.” IDEM: About Leaking Underground Storage Tanks. Web. 3 Nov. 2014. <http://www.in.gov/idem/5067.htm&gt;.

[xv] “Indiana Department of Environmental Management.” IDEM: About Leaking Underground Storage Tanks. Web. 3 Nov. 2014. <http://www.in.gov/idem/5067.htm&gt;.

Understanding Pollution: How Sewage Changed Human Civilization and Water

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Water:  the single most important biological component of life.  Without it plants would not grow, animals would not survive, and humanity would be wiped from existence.  Despite the importance of water to humanity’s survival water pollution is one of the most common forms of pollution on the planet.  Since the times of the Romans the oceans of the world have been used as a dumping ground for mankind’s waste.[i]  Three of the most common causes of water pollution throughout human history have been marine dumping, industrial pollution, and the disposal of sewage and waste water.  If something isn’t done then soon the oceans and rivers of the world will be no better than our local sewer lines.  But, in order to fix a problem, you first have to understand it.

Marine dumping is one of the oldest forms of water pollution on the planet.  Human civilization grew up around sources of water for obvious reasons: irrigation, a source of drinking water, and sadly a place to dispose of water.  According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development marine dumping is “the deliberate disposal of hazardous wastes at sea from vessels, aircraft, platforms or other human—made structures. It includes ocean incineration and disposal into the seabed and sub-seabed.”[ii]  Each item discarded at sea requires time to fully degrade.  Cardboard takes a mere two weeks to degrade in water, Styrofoam takes eighty years to fully degrade, and glass takes so long to degrade that the exact time necessary is unknown.[iii]  These are just a few of the more common items dumped into our oceans, rivers, and lakes that destroy marine ecosystems, and pollute the water that is so vital to human existence.

water pollution 1a

As mankind’s population grew throughout history cities sprung up as focal points of the population booms.  As more and more people were packed tightly together, a problem was discovered:  What to do with all of the human waste?  Thus were sewer systems created.  Sewage is “the term used for wastewater that often contains feces, urine, and laundry waste.”[iv]  That list would also include such items as toilet paper, make up removal cotton pads and tampons. In developed nations sewage is quickly pumped away through sewer lines to water treatment plants where it is purified.  To quickly sum up the process; the water is first screened to separate out large objects, for example diapers.  It is then sent to primary treatment where solid human waste is removed from the water.  Oxygen is then pumped into the water to encourage the breakdown of any remaining bacteria, and finally the sewage is left to sit in a tank where the water will float upward, and any remaining waste sinks[v].  Despite all this treatment, even today sewage can carry viruses and diseases transmitted by human waste[vi].  In the developing world however, it is a different story.  According to the Caribbean Environment Programme, 1.2 billion people lack access to any type of sanitation facilities.  A further 2.5 billion have access to only basic sanitation facilities.[vii]  That is roughly half the world’s population whose sewage is not treated.  That waste water is mixed into rivers, lakes, and oceans polluting the most basic of human biological necessities.  Think for a moment about all the people in the world who do not have hot and cold running water, and are forced to bathe and cook with that water…Nasty thought isn’t it?

water pollution 1b

As mankind has moved throughout the ages technology has expanded with us.  With the advent of the industrial age mankind found the ability to produce on a massive scale.  However, with this increase in production came an increase in waste.  In the United States industry accounts for more than half of all water pollution, and almost all of the truly dangerous pollutants.  Over 350,000 manufacturing facilities use clean water to carry away the wastes they have created. In 1996 the Environmental Protection Agency reported that 40% of the nation’s water had been polluted to the point of unsafe use for drinking, fishing and swimming.[viii]  That is only the United States.  Now, imagine the impact that industrial pollution is having on water supplies worldwide, in both the developed world which does have some regulatory bodies, and in the undeveloped world where there is little or no regulation.  No one can argue that the clock cannot be turned backwards.  Nor can the benefits that came with the advent of the industrial age be doubted.  People are living longer, travel is more easily accomplished, and a globalized world has been established.  This does not change the basic truth that everything comes with a price, and the price that we are paying for our industry is the slow destruction of our water supplies.

water pollution 1c

More than 3.4 million people die every year due to a lack of clean water.[ix]  That equals out to 9315 deaths daily from a lack of clean water.  Water which covers 70% of the earth’s surface.  That is a terrifying thought.  The world’s population is expanding every day, and every day clean water is needed to fuel that growth.  Clean water is sadly a finite resource, and we destroy a little more every day through our pollution of the world’s seas, rivers, and lakes.  Something must be done, but like all great problems the solution is not simple.  It will require people to come together, and strive and sacrifice to find a solution.  That solution begins with every person who is willing to do a google search on ways to help the world overcome the water crisis that will soon consume us all.


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About the Author

Dom resizeDominick Principe is a graduate of Rowan University with dual Bachelor Degrees in Elementary Education and Writing Arts.  He is a prolific reader who devours any book put before him, and feels that life is one great long book without an end.  He fills his hours constantly exploring new information, and seeking to educate himself in the ways of the world.  He puts all of that knowledge and his passion for learning to good use teaching English as a second language to students of all ages.  When his nose isn’t buried in a book, or in class teaching, then he can generally be found typing away at his computer working on some random piece of writing that he was inspired to do.


[i] “Marine Pollution — National Geographic.” National Geographic. National Geographic. Web. 2 Nov. 2014. <http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/critical-issues-marine-pollution/&gt;.

[ii] “OECD Glossary of Statistical Terms – Ocean Dumping Definition.” OECD Glossary of Statistical Terms – Ocean Dumping Definition. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Web. 2 Nov. 2014. <http://stats.oecd.org/glossary/detail.asp?ID=1882&gt;.

[iii] “Marine Dumping « Water Pollution Guide.” Marine Dumping « Water Pollution Guide. The Guides Network. Web. 2 Nov. 2014. <http://www.water-pollution.org.uk/marine.html&gt;.

[iv] “Sewage and Wastewater « Water Pollution Guide.” Sewage and Wastewater « Water Pollution Guide. The Guides Network. Web. 2 Nov. 2014. <http://www.water-pollution.org.uk/sewageandwastewater.html&gt;.

[v] “Step by Step Process of How Wastewater (sewage) Is Treated for Disposal.” Step by Step Process of How Wastewater (sewage) Is Treated for Disposal. Eschool Today. Web. 2 Nov. 2014. <http://eschooltoday.com/pollution/water-pollution/sewage-treatment-process-for-kids.html&gt;.

[vi] [vi] “Sewage and Wastewater « Water Pollution Guide.” Sewage and Wastewater « Water Pollution Guide. The Guides Network. Web. 2 Nov. 2014. <http://www.water-pollution.org.uk/sewageandwastewater.html&gt;.

 

[vii] “The Caribbean Environment Programme.” Wastewater, Sewage and Sanitation. Caribbean Environment Programme. Web. 2 Nov. 2014. <http://www.cep.unep.org/publications-and-resources/marine-and-coastal-issues-links/wastewater-sewage-and-sanitation&gt;.

[viii] “Water Pollution.” Infoplease. Infoplease. Web. 2 Nov. 2014. <http://www.infoplease.com/encyclopedia/science/water-pollution-industrial-pollution.html&gt;.

[ix] “Water.org.” Waterorg. Water.org. Web. 2 Nov. 2014. <http://water.org/water-crisis/water-facts/water/&gt;.

Understanding Pollution: Why Water Is the Reason of Life and Death

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Water.  50-65% of the adult human body is composed of it, and it covers 70% of the earth’s surface.  Westerners are surrounded by an abundance of water every day.  However, despite the fact that 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water only 2.5% of that is fresh water.[i]  That being the case it is arguable that water is the most valuable resource on the planet.  It is one of the three essentials for human life; the other two being air, and food.  It is used in industries as varied as agriculture, and industrial production, and people are battling in courtrooms, statehouses, and in bloody wars over this precious commodity.  Water.  The necessity of life.

clean water 4

No one can argue the need that the human body has for water. Anyone who has ever done a serious workout knows the absolutely amazing feeling of gulping down a bottle of water afterwards.  Most people know that water is important to their health, but do they really know all the benefits that water provides them?  The United States Geological Survey compiled a list of the necessary functions that water provides for the human body.  Firstly, water acts as a building material for every cell in your body.  Our internal body temperature is controlled by water through sweat and respiration. Carbohydrates and proteins are metabolized and transported by water in our bloodstream.  Water is used to remove waste from our bodies via urination, and acts as a shock absorber for our brains and spinal cords.  It is also used to lubricate our joints. [ii]  The absolute necessity of water to our continued survival and prosperity is beyond doubt.

Clean water 1

Aside from the value that water has simply for the human body’s need for it water is used in countless different industries worldwide.  Just to start off, the need for water in agriculture is enormous.  Roughly 70% of water usage around the globe is for use in agriculture and irrigation.[iii]  To provide enough food for basic survival for one person for one day requires two-three thousand liters of water. [iv]  Think about that for a moment.  Then, think about the fact that the earth’s population is continuing to rise.  According to the United States Census Bureau the world’s population in 1900 was 1,550,000,000.[v]  The world’s population in 2013 was 7,125,000,000.[vi]  In a little over a century the world’s population has grown by almost 6 billion.  Then remember that 70% of the world’s water is used solely for agriculture.  We then have 22% of water use going towards industrial production, and 8% for household use.[vii] As the population continues to rise so will water usage, and 2.5% is not an infinite number.

clean water 2

Humanity knows the value of water.  It is a biological imperative, and as such is something worth fighting and dying for.  More than 3.4 million people die each year from water, sanitation, and hygiene-related causes, and the number of people living without access to water is equal to 2.5x the total population of the United States of America.[viii]  In the western United States, battles are being fought in courtrooms and state houses over peoples’ individual rights to water.[ix]  As the size of cities expand state governments are being forced to make choices over access to water.  Farmers, industrial plants, and urbanites are fighting over who should, and more importantly, who should not have access to water.  Meanwhile, in the Middle East 5% of the world’s population has access to only 1% of fresh water.  Former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat once said “The only matter that could take Egypt to war again is water.”[x]

clean water 3

In his bestselling book “Dune” writer Frank Herbert created a substance called the Water of Life.  While the substance from the book does not actually exist, its name is quite interesting.  Water is essential for all life.  Probes are sent to other planets in search of this most precious resource.  Scientists are searching Mars for signs that it once existed there.  That is how important water is.  As mankind continues its population expansion, as we spread out further and further across the globe there is only one thing that all of us require: Water.  Fresh, clean water.  Without it…there is no future.


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About the Author

Dom resizeDominick Principe is a graduate of Rowan University with dual Bachelor Degrees in Elementary Education and Writing Arts.  He is a prolific reader who devours any book put before him, and feels that life is one great long book without an end.  He fills his hours constantly exploring new information, and seeking to educate himself in the ways of the world.  He puts all of that knowledge and his passion for learning to good use teaching English as a second language to students of all ages.  When his nose isn’t buried in a book, or in class teaching, then he can generally be found typing away at his computer working on some random piece of writing that he was inspired to do.


 

[i] “Clean Water Crisis, Water Crisis Facts, Water Crisis Resources – National Geographic.”National Geographic. National Geographic. Web. 1 Nov. 2014. <http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/freshwater/freshwater-crisis&gt;.

[ii] “The Water in You.” Water Properties: (Water Science for Schools). United States Geological Survey. Web. 1 Nov. 2014. <http://water.usgs.gov/edu/propertyyou.html&gt;.

[iii] “Water Consumption Statistics – Worldometers.” Water Consumption Statistics – Worldometers. Web. 10 Nov. 2014. <http://www.worldometers.info/water/&gt;.

[iv] “Coping with Water Scarcity.” Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. 1 Jan. 2007. Web. 1 Nov. 2014. <http://www.fao.org/nr/water/docs/escarcity.pdf&gt;.

[v] “World Population Historical Estimates of World Population.” Census.gov. United States Census Bureau. Web. 1 Nov. 2014. <World Population Historical Estimates of World Population>.

[vi] “Resources.” The Population Institute. Web. 1 Nov. 2014. <http://www.populationinstitute.org/resources/&gt;.

[vii] “Water Use.” Water Facts and Figures. International Fund for Agricultural Development. Web. 10 Nov. 2014. <http://www.ifad.org/english/water/key.htm&gt;.

[viii] “Water.org.” Waterorg. Web. 1 Nov. 2014. <http://water.org/water-crisis/water-facts/water/&gt;.

[ix] Wines, Michael. “West’s Drought and Growth Intensify Conflict Over Water Rights.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 16 Mar. 2014. Web. 1 Nov. 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/17/us/wests-drought-and-growth-intensify-conflict-over-water-rights.html?_r=0&gt;.

[x] “Water, Conflict, and Cooperation: Lessons From the Nile River Basin (No. 4) | Wilson Center.” Water, Conflict, and Cooperation: Lessons From the Nile River Basin (No. 4) | Wilson Center. The Wilson Center. Web. 1 Nov. 2014. <http://www.wilsoncenter.org/publication/water-conflict-and-cooperation-lessons-the-nile-river-basin-no-4&gt;.