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Environmental Pollution Studies

Copyright Date: 1999
Edition: 1
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Environmental Pollution Studies
    Book Description:

    This book examines a number of important contemporary environmental issues in an informative and easy-to-read style. The topics covered include sewage treatment, eutrophication, air pollution, acid rain, global warming and pollution from farming. A particularly valuable section of the book describes a range of tests that can be carried out on various environmental parameters. The procedures require relatively simple equipment and they have been pre-tested in a school laboratory. Environmental Pollution Studies will be of value to senior school pupils and students at college or university embarking on courses in environmental science.

    eISBN: 978-1-84631-303-5
    Subjects: Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. viii-viii)
    Gerry Best
  4. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    W. A. Turmeau

    Our world, the Earth, is a relatively recent creation in terms of age of the universe. This planet of ours was formed many, many millions of years ago, but life has been present on the Earth for about 4,600 million years. The human species, ‘Homo Habilis’, is a fairly recent phenomenon having only inhabited the Earth for a mere 3 million years! If we put those 3 million years into the well-known context of a 24-hour clock, then ancient man slowly developed and evolved along with dinosaurs and pterodactyls and the like, for most of the day and evening, the...

  5. 1. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    Water pollution, global warming, poor air quality, acid rain, holes in the ozone layer, etc. – these are issues that are featured regularly in our newspapers, news reports and TV programmes. Ever since we received the first pictures of the earth from outer space, we have become much more aware of how small our world is in the cosmos and how vulnerable it is to destruction by human activities. Concern about the state of our environment is now one of the main issues in people’s minds, even higher up the list than war, unemployment and health.

    National governments have responded to...

  6. 2. Sewage collection and treatment
    (pp. 5-28)

    In our day-to-day living of getting up, having breakfast, going to school, eating lunch and tea, washing ourselves, clothes and dishes, etc., we each use 140 litres of water a day, on average. The greatest contribution to this usage (30–40 per cent) comes from the flushing of the toilet to get rid of our bodies’ waste. It seems odd that water is purified to a stage where it’s fit to drink and then most of this good quality water is flushed down the loo! In the UK, the modern WC cistern holds 9 litres (2 gallons) but there are...

  7. 3. Eutrophication
    (pp. 29-40)

    The word ‘eutrophication’ comes from the Greekeutrophoswhich means well nourished. It is applied to water that is enriched with nutrients, mainly phosphorus and nitrogen compounds, which encourage the growth of abnormally large number of algae and aquatic plants. The extent of nutrient enrichment of water (its ‘trophic’ state) is described by different prefixes, graded from ultra-oligotrophic water, which is very deficient in nutrients, through oligotrophic, mesotrophic and eutrophic, to hypertrophic, which has a great excess of nutrients.

    The problem of eutrophication mainly applies to still water such as that in lakes, ponds and canals. This is because the...

  8. 4. Pollution from farming
    (pp. 41-53)

    Farming has been revolutionized in the past hundred years. In the 1890s, wheat was sown by hand, weeded by the hoe and harvested with the sickle and scythe, and about a third of the population were employed in some activity related to the growing of food. In 1945, 1 million people worked in farming in the UK, but by 1960, regular farm jobs had fallen to half a million; in 1994, the number had declined further to only 120,000 people. The largest single factor contributing to this change has been mechanization, in particular the replacement of the horse by the...

  9. 5. Fish farming
    (pp. 54-63)

    One of the most rapidly growing industries in the UK today is that of fish farming (also called aquaculture, although this term also includes shellfish and crustacea farming). These fish farms are either raising trout or salmon, although experiments are being carried out into rearing other species such as halibut and turbot. The industry in the UK is dominated by salmon farming, which takes place mostly in Scotland. However, the current UK production of 83,000 tonnes each year is small by comparison with Norway where the annual production is 220,000 tonnes. An indication of the speed of the development of...

  10. 6. Tip drainage
    (pp. 64-68)

    Earlier in this book we dealt with the pollution problems that arise from the disposal of our liquid waste. We also get rid of an enormous amount of solid waste in the form of the refuse that is put into our bin sacks or ‘wheelie’ bins. It’s difficult to visualize the amount of rubbish we throw out but Cover Illustration 5 shows the accumulated waste that a ‘typical’ family would put into their rubbish bin in one year.

    Despite government attempts to get us to recycle our refuse, the great majority is collected by the local authorities and disposed of....

  11. 7. Mine-water pollution
    (pp. 69-74)

    In the UK, about 200 km of river lengths are polluted by mine water and a further 400 km by discharges from abandoned metal mines. The problem is likely to get worse because the closure of many deep-shaft coal mines in the early 1990s will result in further flooding and discharges of polluted mine water. In a survey of pollution caused by mine-water drainage in Scotland, it was found that there were 59 discharges of mine water: 25 from abandoned mines, 17 indirectly associated with mining, 8 from active mines and the remainder from coal waste tips and opencast mines.¹...

  12. 8. Acid rain
    (pp. 75-85)

    Acidification of rain and snow may seem to be a recent environmental pollution problem. However, the phenomenon has been known for over a century since it was first noticed that buildings, trees and plants were damaged if they were downwind of chemical factories discharging acid fumes. The damage was mostly confined to periods of rainfall because of the removal of air-borne pollutants by rain droplets. At that time, the problem was a local one, confined to an area close to the factories. This was because the factory chimneys were relatively short and there was not widespread dispersion of the pollutants....

  13. 9. Air pollution
    (pp. 86-95)

    Problems from air pollution have existed ever since the human race started to use fire. Anyone who has lit a bonfire or who has a coal fire at home will be well aware of the amount of smoke that is generated when they are first alight. Multiply the individual fires by the number of homes using them and it’s easy to see why our towns and cities were such unhealthy places in the past.

    The first documented complaints about air pollution can be traced back to 1257 when the wife of Henry III, Queen Eleanor, refused to stay in Nottingham...

  14. 10. Global warming
    (pp. 96-103)

    In recent years, the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere has been warmer than at any time since measurements were first taken in 1860. Overall, it is estimated that the average overall temperature increase is between 0.3 and 0.6°C. In April 1997, it was announced that satellite measurements of the northern hemisphere of the globe showed that spring was arriving seven days earlier than ten years before and that the leaf fall of autumn was taking place four days later. These were just two examples of global warming caused by the so-called greenhouse effect.

    The way the greenhouse effect is reported...

  15. 11. Biological indicators of the quality of the environment
    (pp. 104-111)

    In this book, various types of pollution have been described which affect the quality of the air, land and water. The pollutants can usually be measured by analytical chemistry and, in Chapter 12, different methods of chemical analysis are described. However, chemical analysis tells you only the amount of the pollutant present and nothing about its effect on the environment. For this, we need biological methods because living organisms are exposed to pollutants and react according to the length of the exposure and their sensitivity to the pollutant. However, before we can assess whether the organisms are affected by a...

  16. 12. Measuring the quality of the environment
    (pp. 112-142)

    This book has described a variety of environmental pollutants and their effects on people and other organisms. In laboratories throughout the world, professional scientists are regularly collecting samples from all sectors of the environment and analysing them for pollutants. Sometimes the analytical results are presented in court to prosecute polluters, whilst in other laboratories the data are used to find safe levels so that the environment is not adversely affected. In most laboratories, the analytical instruments used are complex and expensive, and are capable of rapidly measuring trace quantities of pollutants. It is possible, however, to obtain an indication of...

  17. Postscript
    (pp. 143-144)

    This book has described a range of environmental problems which are encountered in the UK and in other developed countries at the close of the twentieth century. We are fortunate that we are living in a time when our environment in the UK has improved greatly even though there are more of us and we are emitting more waste, whether it be fumes, effluents or rubbish. This is because there are many more controls and limits on how much we can discharge into the environment. There are always new pressures though: at the time of writing at the start of...

  18. Appendix
    (pp. 145-145)
  19. Useful addresses
    (pp. 146-150)
  20. Index
    (pp. 151-156)