Ocean pollution

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Even though ocean pollution can be obvious, it is often the pollutants that we cannot see that do the most harm.

Ocean pollution is pollution in the sea. It is a form of water pollution.

Sources of ocean pollution[change | change source]

There are a great number of sources of ocean pollution. Some of these sources are easy to find. Others are harder to find.

Trash dumping[change | change source]

A swan builds a nest using plastic trash.

Humans dump trash in lots of places, like the ocean. In the 1980s, scientists became alarmed by the kind of trash that was washing up on beaches. Bandages, bottles of blood and needles were found.[1] Some of the blood in the bottles even had the AIDS virus.[1] The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began to investigate, and found that hospitals in the United States make about 3 million tons of medical waste every year.[1] And some of this trash goes in the ocean.

Because of stricter laws, much of this medical waste is now buried in the ground. However, dumping trash in the deeper part of the ocean is still done in lots of countries.[1]

Sludge dumping[change | change source]

By 1990, the United States alone had already given out 38 trillion liters of sludge into the waters along its coasts.[1] Raw sewage is all the liquid and solid wastes that go down toilets and drains. After collecting in sewer drains, raw sewage goes through a treatment plant, where it is cleaned, and the solid waste is removed.[1] Once the liquid is treated, it goes to nearby waterways. The remaining solid waste is called sludge. This toxin and bacteria-filled sludge is often dumped into the ocean. The people who dump it in think it will sink to the ocean floor. However, this sludge does not always stay on the ocean floor. Sometimes currents stir up the sludge and move it closer to shore, polluting beaches and killing marine life.[1] Lots of countries have now made laws so that people cannot dump sludge. However, it continues to happen in many places in the world.[1]

Nonpoint-Source pollution[change | change source]

Every time we wash a car or fertilize our lawns we are polluting the ocean.[1] People often think that water pollution comes from big factories, but most of the pollution comes from everyday people doing everyday things. This kind of pollution is called nonpoint-source pollution because we cannot point out where it came from directly. All waste water, in time, enters a body of water (usually a stream). Every stream leads to a river, and every river leads to an ocean.

Oil spills[change | change source]

Because so many people use oil, large ships must take billions of barrels of it across the oceans. If it is not handled carefully, these trips can be very bad. In 1989, the United States experienced a large oil spill in Prince William Sound, a waterway on the Alaskan coast. The Exxon Valdez, a very big ship, hit a reef and spilled more than 260,000 barrels of oil.[1] The results were very bad. A great number of animals were covered in oil and began dying immediately. Animals that ate these oil-filled animals also died. Many Alaskans who lived by fishing these animals lost their businesses. Even though many animals were saved, and the Exxon Oil Company spent 2.5 billion dollars trying to clean up the oil, Alaska's wildlife still suffers.[1]

Saving the ocean[change | change source]

Humans have done much to harm the ocean, but we are starting to try to help them. Countries promise each other to clean up the ocean and save the ocean's resources.

The notice of nations[change | change source]

When marine pollution grew worse and worse, many countries saw that they needed to help each other. In 1989, 64 countries agreed to a treaty so that none of them could dump mercury, cadmium compounds, some kinds of plastic, oil, and other dangerous wastes in the ocean. Many other agreements trying to lessen ocean pollution have been made, but keeping them is often very hard.[1]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 Earth Science. 1120 South Capital of Texas Highway, Austin, Texas 78746-6487: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. 2001. ISBN 0-03-055667-8 .

Other websites[change | change source]