Harmful Pollutants & Effects

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Among the many pollutants can cause harm to our stormwater are the following:

Sediments (dirt)

  • Reduces light penetration and affects photosynthesis, the process that allows plants to use light as their source of energy
  • Makes waterways cloudy and can suffocate fish by clogging their gills
  • Destroys aquatic habitats
  • Can clog ditches, culverts, and drainage pipes and create potential for flooding

Nutrients (fertilizers, yard waste)

  • Nutrients are compounds that stimulate plant growth, like nitrogen and phosphorus; nutrients are beneficial and necessary, but in high concentrations can become an environmental threat
  • Cause algae blooms; when the algae dies off, it sinks and decomposes in a process that removes oxygen, killing fish and plant life (eutrophication)

Pathogens (human and animal waste)

  • Pathogens are disease-causing micro-organisms, such as bacteria and viruses, causing health problems to humans, wildlife and plant life

Toxic Contaminants (oils, grease, pesticides)

  • These substances can harm the health of aquatic life and/or human beings
  • Many toxins are resistant to breakdown and tend to be passed through the food chain
  • Toxins are created by a wide variety of human practices and products, and include heavy metals, pesticides and organic compounds

Debris

  • Trash is the simplest type of pollution to understand—it interferes with the enjoyment of our water resources
  • Plastic bags, six pack rings, bottles, and cigarette butts washed into our water bodies can choke, suffocate, or disable aquatic life like birds, fish, and turtles
  • When trash decays it can become an environmental concern