Pollution

Point Source Pollution and Nonpoint Source Pollution

What is point source pollution?

Point source pollution is pollution that can be identified as coming from a single certain point or source.

What is nonpoint source pollution?

Non-point source pollution is pollution that comes from multiple sources that are difficult to identify.

What are some examples of point source and nonpoint source pollution?

In urban and suburban areas, nonpoint source and point source pollution examples are: feces from dogs and other pets; sewage seepage from septic tanks and resulting viruses and bacteria; fertilizer, pesticides, household chemicals; oil, grease gas, road salts and thermal pollution from driveways and roads and heavy metals from roof shingles and other construction waste.

In industrial areas, some examples of nonpoint source pollution   come from oil, grease and toxic chemicals from refineries; paper and pulp mills; chemical, cement, automobile, electronics manufacturers; sewage treatment plants; Sewage from poorly maintained sanitation equipment. smoke stacks and sediment from factories; oil, coal sludge, toxic chemicals from power plants. Pollution from smokestacks and industrial waste can also contribute to nonpoint source pollution.

Solid waste pollution from litter and industrial sites, such as plastic packaging, are huge problems for waterways and sea life. Plastic pollution in the ocean has become a matter of global concern.

According to the EPA, Commercial agriculture is one of the largest contributors to non point source pollution attributed to and excessive fertilizers and pesticides and herbicides.

How does point source and nonpoint source pollution get into the waterways? 

Pollutants build up and get washed  by rain run-off into gutters, drainage ditches, streams and rivers that carry them into water bodies like ponds, lakes, and oceans.  There tends to be more runoff from hard, impervious surfaces such as roads, driveways, paved paths, patios and parking lots. Air pollution can also find its way into the waterways when it settles or is brought down by rainfall.

Oil, gas, detergents and household chemicals run off into the water from driveways, patios and roadways when people wash their cars at home. Fertilizer and dog feces can run off from lawns and gardens that are near waterways, gutters, and drainage ditches when it rains or when people water their lawns.  Certain bacteria and viruses can get into water from things disposed improperly in sinks or yards. Water tests in urban coastal areas often show varying levels of feces from pets along with other household chemicals. 

How does point source pollution and nonpoint source pollution affect the environment?

Pollution can change the chemical make up of water so drastically that it is no longer suitable for aquatic life. Fertilizers and other pollutants cause algae and bacteria growth, affect oxygen levels and change acidity levels. These changes can change the water temperature and lead to massive fish kills and loss of species. 

Contaminated water causes many problems for humans as well.  Polluted lakes and ponds give off a pungent smell and can become stagnant. Stagnant water breeds mosquitoes and that spreads disease. Unhealthy mercury levels can get into the drinking water and cause brain disorders. Bacteria and viruses from sewage can cause stomach flu, typhoid fever, and diarrhea. Disease from polluted water is one of the leading causes of death in some developing nations.

How can we control point source and nonpoint source pollution?

Nature is a fantastic filter! Create and restore natural buffers along waterways to mitigate point source pollution. Install a  water conservation garden There are great landscape designs that can help slow runoff. Limit pavement and use impervious surfaces for driveways, patios, and paths whenever possible.  Follow best practices when cleaning up pet feces and disposing of garbage, litter, and toxic waste. Use a car wash, have your oil changed professionally, and make sure you have no leaks under your car to reduce automotive pollutants.  Make sure all septic and sewer systems are inspected and function properly. 

There are many technologies and best practices being developed to control pollution from agriculture and industry.  Regenerative agriculture techniques such as no-till farming allows organic matter to build in the soil which reduces erosion and run off. Less fertilizer means less nutrient pollution  in the water.  Keep livestock and animal waste away from the waterways.

“The EPA manages effluent limits for point sources in two ways: through technology-based controls and through water quality-based controls. Industry-wide effluent limits are established on a technology basis. These are minimum standards based on available treatment technology and pollution prevention measures.”  Epa.gov

We are all in this together.  Everyone deserves clean air and water regardless of income or political affiliation. It is an economic issue as much as an environmental  and moral issue, It is also common sense.

What are some other ways to control pollution?  Share your ideas!


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