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Accidental and deliberate discharge of crude oil into the ocean by cargo ships is regarded as one of the prime causes of pollution of the water body. Dumping of industrial wastes into ocean is another reason for marine pollution. The wastes often contain toxic materials such as mercury, dioxin, PCBs, PAHs and radioactive materials, which contaminate the water of ocean. Deposition of sediments from mining leads to ocean pollution. Trash washed into the ocean after heavy rain or floods gives rise to marine debris, which pollutes the water body. Dumping of human wastes, plastic and disposal of untreated or partially treated sewage water into the ocean is called 'garbage dumping'. This is one of the leading causes of marine pollution. Carbon dioxide, emitted by automobiles, due to the burning of fossil fuels, leads to air pollution. The contaminated air containing carbon dioxide reaches the ocean in the form of acid rain, thereby polluting the water.
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Marine Pollution: Causes and Consequences
Pollution of the world's oceans is quickly becoming a major problem on Earth. We know very little about the effect that pollution has on the oceans, but we continue to dispose off chemicals, sewage and garbage into it at an unprecedented rate. Most people likely do not even know what types of pollutants reach the oceans. There may be billions of people unconcerned about ocean pollution and hence this problem. Truly, the fish catch from the sea will tend to bio concentrate the pollutants to finally reach the humans. Toxic Ocean Pollutants Toxic pollutants in the ocean ecosystem have massive impacts on the plants and animals. Heavy metal poisoning (such as lead and mercury) from industrial effluents accumulate in the tissues of top predators such as whales and sharks (so do not hesitate to support ban of hunting whales and sharks but to the dislike of many others). Many a times such poisoning causes birth defects and damages nervous system. Dioxins from the pulp and paper bleaching process can cause genetic chromosomal problems in marine animals and may even cause cancer in humans. PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) typically cause reproduction problems in most marine organisms. PCBs usually come from older electrical equipment. Poly-aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are another source of marine toxic pollution and typically come from oil pollution and burning wood and coal. These PAHs are responsible for causing genetic chromosomal aberrations in many marine animals. Lastly, low-level radiation poisoning is also possible in the ocean environment. Though scientists know very little about how radiation affects marine organisms, it cannot be a good thing anyway. Some marine species such as a population of Beluga whales living in the St. Lawrence River area in Eastern Canada are in serious trouble because of marine toxic pollution. These Beluga whales are the victims of ocean pollution ranging from PCBs to heavy metals as well as other pollutants. However, toxic pollution is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of total ocean pollution. The toxic pollution varies from PAHs heavy metal pollution from industrial effluent and fallout, PCB pollution and even possible low level radiation. No matter what we humans do, there is potential for serious pollution of the oceans.
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many organisms in the ocean die from being unable to breathe properly. Marine garbage can often enter into animal gut. In one case. dishes and cattle. The whale died from inability to process its food and died of starvation. in contrast. It is possible to clean garbage from the oceans if humanity quits using it as a garbage dump. washing machines. Then. sharks and whales entangling themselves in fishing nets and dying from oxygen starvation. a deceased sperm whale was found to have a party balloon blocking its digestive system. Plastics can also have negative impacts to boats if they accidentally plug water intake lines. phosphorous). Garbage in the oceans is a serious issue as fish entangle themselves in fishing nets and animals sometimes eat trash products and die. the problem with sewage is that it causes massive nutrient loading in the ocean ecosystem. salts. industrial runoff (heavy metals. It becomes a problem only when the input increases to such levels that the original properties or functions of the ecosystem change. Obviously. various chemicals) and atmospheric fallout of airborne pollution. viz. faces. There are numerous examples of dolphins. The enrichment of water by nutrients. Typically. is pollution from a direct source like a factory outfall pipe. Eventually. Non-Point Pollutants The last major source of ocean pollutant is non-point. causes an accelerated growth of algae and higher forms of plant life to produce an undesirable disturbance to the balance of organisms and the quality of the water (Eutrophication). For the most part. an island 300 miles from the nearest inhabited island (and 3000+ miles from the nearest continent) had 950 pieces of garbage ranging from plastics to tin cans. Other problems associated with sewage include parasites/bacteria that force closure of public coastal beaches and poisoning of shellfish fisheries. it is the hardest to control.. runoff from farmland (fertilizers. Even simple plastic bags can have large pollutive impacts within the ocean. As the world population continues to increase. Input of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus to the sea is a natural prerequisite for life. plastic pop tab rings accidentally strangle animals and so forth. manure). urban runoff (oils. not an environmental problem. industrial effluents and even chemicals such as paints and fertilizers that we dispose of down the drains. general household garbage and even like bulbs. bathtubs. cities in the developed world have sewage treatment facilities but many of the cities in poorer areas have little to no sewage treatment. all of this sewage pollution adds up and we land in serious problems due to lack of oxygen for organisms and poisoned water. it becomes too much of a y y y y y y y y . What we often do not realize is that the waste water out of washing our clothes. Sewage Disposal in Ocean Sewage is yet another major source of marine pollution. Sometimes the garbage includes junked out fishing nets. After the depletion of oxygen levels. Nutrient loading triggers algal blooms in the water leading to the loss of dissolved oxygen. plastics. The world's oceans are a virtual dumping ground for trash. sewage pollution will be on the rise. is ultimately headed to the sea. Controlling this form of pollution is important to maintain a healthy ocean ecosystem. Point pollution. Non-point pollution can come from amazingly varying sources. In one case.y y y y y Marine Garbage Marine garbage disposal is another major form of ocean pollution. especially compounds of nitrogen and phosphorus. This includes everything from our homes (toilets. dishwashers and so forth).
y y y y y Pollution of coastal waters: Kerala under microscope The coastal waters of the maritime states are under the constant threat of pollution from a number of sources. the fertilizer residue leads to the eutrophication of the coastal waters. Where do we go from here? Industrial pollution is not as bad as it used to be in the developed world as new techniques and better waste and effluent treatment are put in place. In the past. yet could not influence the sea water chemistry to any great extent. the brunt is borne by the waters in the lagoons. and adds to the reservoir of the chemicals that already exists in the sea. The intracoastal water way is no exception either. profile of Kerala's coastal waters may be better. Luckily. New laws and regulations make it difficult for people to dump their trash into the oceans though inevitably some dumping will always occur. if not checked. By cleaning up the trash on beaches. Obviously. More so is the case of Kerala. do not survive in the marine environment. cardamom. The relatively long shoreline of India (6000 Km) is no exception either. The sheer size of the coastal waters is an insurance against the pollutants. in the sediments and on the surface of the bottoms. followed by other events and effects is ominous and results in higher levels of nutrients in the water.good thing. However. Reducing harmful sewage discharge would be a major start in helping to clean the oceans of pollution. it is referred to as eutrophication . still a lot remains to be achieved. ponds and other inland water bodies. chemical and biological changes that follow tend to reflect in the fauna and flora. Physical. oxygen conditions change and other changes in the water mass. y y y y y . along with the physiography has immensely contributed to the quality of coastal waters. like the fertilizer residues. Developed countries like Canada and the United States as well as Western Europe should assist the poorer countries in installing sewage treatment facilities. Input of too large amounts of nutrients. and rubber plantations of the highland and midland are finally headed to the coastal water of the ocean. where a 60 mile wide algal belt has reportedly come to stay. Reduction of sewage is possible through the installation of better sewage treatment facilities and by adoption of volume reduction technologies for the world's cities.a concept covering a series of events in the aquatic environment. people simply dumped used oils and paints into the sewer system where they would do serious damage to the water. the amphibious plant species that characterize the fresh water bodies and lead to their eutrophication. One idea is to promote community beach-cleaning events where in everybody volunteers in to pick trash off the beaches. Fertilizer residue originating from the tea. Many areas of the world have reduced non-point pollution through proper recycling facilities for used oil and paint products. we may reach a situation like in the mouth ofMississippi River. Pollution will still occur but with effort and determination it is possible to reduce its impact on the oceans. Compared to the rest of the union. But. The agrarian nature of land use itself has become a bane to the coastal water bodies of the state in the midland as well as in the lagoons in coastal land. The tropicality of the region and consequent intense rain fall in the hinterland. When this manifests in marine waters or a lake. we lessen the potential chances of accidental animal kills and afford better and cleaner looks for beaches.
1. Department of Geology.y y (Source: Marine Ecosystem: EMCBTAP-ENVIS Newsletter.695 581 Vol. 2003) . 2. Kariavattom . No. University of Kerala.