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Water Pollution

consists of any physical or chemical change in water that adversely affects the health of humans and other organisms


the release of wastewater from drains or sewers and includes human waste, soaps, and detergents


the fertilization of a body of water caused by the presence of high levels of plant and algal nutrients (such as nitrogen and phosphorus)

Cellular Respiration

the degradation process, that requires the presence of oxygen, where sewage and other organic materials are decomposed into carbon dioxide, water and other inoffensive materials by the action of microorganisms

Biochemical(biological) Oxygen Demand (BOD)

the amount of oxygen needed by microorganisms to decompose the wastes into carbon dioxide, water, and minerals. High levels of this occur when the excessive numbers of algae die and are decomposed by bacteria

Disease-Causing Agents

infectious organisms that cause diseases and come from the wastes of infected individuals

Fecal Coliform Test

Performed to test for the presence of E. coli in water; a small sample of water is passed through a filter to trap all bacteria


disease-causing agents in water

Bacterial Source Tracking (BST)

a field of science that attempts to make the proper identification of the source of contamination for fecal coliform bacteria

Sediment pollution

consists of excessive amounts of suspended soil particles that eventually settle out and accumulate on the bottom of a body of water

Inorganic plant and algal nutrients

chemicals such as nitrogen and phosphorous that stimulate the growth of plants and algae, they are essential for the normal functioning of healthy ecosystems but are harmful in larger concentrations

Organic Compounds

chemicals that contain carbon atoms. Most of them that are found in water are synthetic chemicals that are produced bye human activities

Inorganic Chemicals

contaminants that do not easily degrade and contain elements other than carbon (e.g. acids, salts and heavy metals)

Radioactive Substances

contain atoms of unstable isotopes that spontaneously emit radiation. Radioactive substances can get into water from several sources, including the mining and processing of radioactive minerals (such as uranium and thorium)

Thermal Pollution

Occurs when heated water produced during certain industrial processes


unenriched, minimal levels of nutrients in lakes, estuaries, and slow-flowing streams


the enrichment of a lake, estuary, or slow-flowing stream by inorganic plant and algal nutrients (such as phosphorus)

Artificial (Cultural) Eutrophication

fast eutrophication accelerated by human activities

Point source pollution

is discharged into the environment through pipes, sewers, or ditches from specific sites such as factories or sewage treatment plant. It is relatively easy to control

Nonpoint Source Pollution (Polluted runoff)

caused by land pollutants that enter bodies of water over large areas rather than at a single point; it occurs when precipitation moves over and through the soil, picking up and carrying away pollutants that eventually are deposited into bodies of water


artificial lakes that are produced by building a dam across a river or stream and allow water to be accumulated and stored when there is an adequate supply for use during periods of drought.

Primary Treatment

removes suspended and floating particles, such as sand and silt, by mechanical processes (such as screening and gravitational settling)

Primary Sludge

the solid material that settles out during Primary Treatment

Secondary Treatment

uses microorganisms to decompose the suspended organic material in wastewater

Secondary Sludge

formed by the particles and microorganisms that are allowed to settle out after several hours (after secondary treatment)

Tertiary Treatment

Advanced wastewater treatment methods that include a variety of biological, chemical and physical processes.

Ocean Dumping Ban Act

Passed by the U.S. Congress in 1988, it barred ocean dumping of sludge and industrial waste

Safe Drinking Water Act

Passed by the U.S. Congress in 1974, it set uniform federal standards for drinking water in order to guarantee safe public water supplies throughout the U.S.

Maximum Contaminant Level

the maximum permissible amount of any water pollutant that might adversely affect human health

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