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Beach Pollution and It’s Effect’s on the Environment

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    Beach pollution is a growing problem in our society. Does it have an effect on our environment? If it does, how does it affect us? Are there solutions to prevent beach pollution? We will examine the issue of beach pollution, the effect it has on our environment and possible solutions to preventing it’s getting worse. An enormous amount of the human population and infrastructure is found along one of our most precious resources, better known as the coastline or State beaches. Beach pollution has become a wide spread problem due in part to natural phenomena such as heavy rain, hurricanes and red tides. www. groundtruthtrekking. org) Unnatural causes that are carried out near lagoons, rivers, seas and beaches can include but are not limited to: wastes from ships and small vessels, seafood and fish product waste by fishermen cleaning their catch near the beach, sugar mills near the coast, edible waste dumped in the sea by restaurant operators, treated or untreated drainage discharge of an agricultural or domestic origin, that empty directly into the sea. Residential septic systems, overrun sewage treatment, lawns that have been treated with pesticides and fertilizer, are all contributors of pollution.

    Acid rain in which air pollutants become dissolved in water drops which in turn acidify the water, which is commonly known as “acid rain”. Both human and animal waste adds microbial pathogens, intestinal parasites and viruses into the water. However, in many cases communities and visitors exhibiting a disregard for one of our most precious resources are a large reason our beaches have become heavily polluted. Today it is quite common to hear on the daily news about a new form of pollution.

    More often, it is the direct result of our society becoming careless and holding no regard in the manner we discard our daily use of drinks, daily food products, industrial waste and byproducts, nor the negative effect it will have on our beaches and more importantly our environment. If we as a society wish to preserve our coastal resources and be a contributor to the minimization of losing our State’s beaches, it then becomes both a social and economical responsibility of said society. Failure to do so could cost us a beautiful and natural resource. (www. ypte. org. k) The number of swimming advisories and the closing of beaches annually, indicate that pollution at said sites continue to be a persistent and growing problem which continues to increase at an alarming rate. (www. dbw. ca. gov)

    In 1995, close to 4000 beaches were closed by local and state governments. In 2010, more than 4,512 beaches were either closed or issued advisory days. (www. nrdc. org/water/oceans/ttw/faq. asp) Due to the severity of this problem, a few States now have comprehensive monitoring systems which are quite comprehensive, while other states have imited programs that monitor water quality and the safety of the water for recreation and swimming enjoyment. Past studies have shown pollution of beaches are usually infrequent or confined to local areas. Disruption or damage to a wastewater collection or a water treatment centers infrastructure can be compromised due to natural events such as heavy rainfall, flooding or hurricanes. Water pollution also causes harmful micro-organism diseases, which involve poisoning episodes that affect the health and digestive system of humans. Coastal waters often receive the brunt of human waste, either by natural land run-off or deliberate dumping.

    Approximately 80% of ocean pollution is the result of land based activities. It often takes human casualties before Government officials acknowledge the severity of our polluted beaches. In highly polluted water, humans can be exposed to serious diseases, such as hookworm, typhoid fever and hepatitis. Other diseases caused by polluted beach water include, diarrhea, vomiting, respiratory infections, neurological problems with damage to the nervous system, endocrine damage lowering immune function.

    Less serious health effects may include ear aches, rashes, headaches, fever and pink eye. (water. epa. gov/type/oceb/beaches/pollution. fm) Oil Spills And It’s Effect In the last decade oil spills have been a major source of beach and sea water pollution. The black tar-like oil has washed onto beaches causing nuisance to vacationers while also killing many sea birds and marine life. In 1992, the world’s oceans had more than 4 million tons of oil spills. In the same year, the UK reported 611 incidents of oil pollution in coastal waters alone. Over the last 20 years, spillages have been made worse or were caused by human error. Human error can be carelessness, but also includes the use of old and unsafe ships while employing inadequately trained crew members.

    Migrating species like razorbill and puffin are at risk, as they search for areas of what appears to be calm water to rest on or catch fish. The oil covered sea looks calm, but after landing in the slick oil, which coats its feathers, they become unable to fly away. Because of the fact that birds preen their feathers, therefore, ingesting the oily substance which is poisonous, even when slightly oiled, they sometimes die. (www. ypte. org. uk/environmental/sea-pollution/36) The cleanup of an oil spill is an extremely complicated business that depends on water temperature and weather conditions.

    In some instances oil can be contained with the use of long gloating booms, allowing the oil to be pumped off of the surface of the sea. A chemical dispersant is often used to assist in the containment of oil slicks into droplets that can then be broken down by marine bacteria. The dispersants can save seabird colonies and reduce damage to the beaches, but remain extremely toxic, adding more poison to the sea water. (www. ypte. org. uk/environmental/sea-pollution/36) This country has patrol aircrafts that can search the seas surface for floating oil.

    These spotter planes can work alongside dispersant-spraying crafts with the ability to identify the different types of oil, enabling them to remove the oil spill in the quickest and most effective way. Until considered safe for disposal, radioactive waste is stored in water ponds next to nuclear power stations. Using a process called vitrification, nuclear waste is poured into glass chambers then sealed and stored in a steel canister containing concrete. After which the containers are then dumped approximately 2 km from the coastline onto the ocean floor. (www. ypte. org. uk/environmental/sea-pollution/36)

    Since 1986, coastal clean ups have been coordinated by the Center for Marine Conservation. In 1988, the first Nationwide cleanup occurred. The Marpol Treaty (the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships is the international treaty regulating disposal of wastes generated by normal operation of vessels) went into effect a few months prior. A year later, both Mexico and Canada joined in the cleanup. ( www. whoi. edu/science/B/people/kamaral/plasticsarticle. html) Records of all trash collected is kept and maintained by the Center for Marine Conservation.

    This database lists eight categories, in no particular order: Styrofoam, rubber, metal, cloth, glass, plastic wood and cloth. In 1993, during the cleanup an astonishing amount of trash was collected, with plastic accounting for more than half of the 3. 1 million pounds of debris collected that year. At that time, the “dirty dozen” list of the most common trash found was as follows (in no particular order): plastic caps and lids, plastic food bags, plastic straws, plastic beverage bottles, plastic pieces, Styrofoam, cigarette butts, glass pieces, glass beverage bottles, metal beverage cans, paper pieces, Styrofoam cups. www. whoi. edu/science/B/people/kamaral/plasticsarticle. html) Possible Solutions To Preventing Beach And Ocean Pollution? We have learned that beach pollution continues to grow at an alarming rate. In order to preserve our natural resource, Federal, State and local governments need to work together to make beach water pollution a priority, starting with better controls on stormwater and sewage. The common practice of flushing medications down the toilet, could keep fish from reproducing.

    The San Francisco Bay water was found to have acetaminophen, thought to be a direct result of this practice. Sea otters with serious diseases, were found to have parasites that are commonly found in household pet waste. The pet owners failure to collect and properly dispose of such waste at beach sites has been directly linked to the sea otters illnesses. (www. savesfbay. org) Individuals can start by taking simple actions.

    If we strategically place rain gardens in yards, green roofs, and using storm water for irrigation, we can make a dent in the amount of waste water that is dumped into our beaches, buying and using environment friendly products, simplifying our use of plastics and harmful chemicals, by following simple rules for discarding common trash. If we all washed our vehicles at local carwashes, it would help in the prevention of toxic runoff, which in turn flows directly into storm drains, then to creeks, rivers and ultimately the sea. If we continue ignoring how much damage we are causing to our oastline, our coastline will erode and we will lose an extremely beautiful natural resource. By educating ourselves and others about the negative effect that beach pollution has on our environment, we can then begin to diminish the problem. Whether the trash is ours or someone else’s, we can help restore the beauty of our beaches, by picking up one piece of trash at a time.

    References

    Beach Pollution | Beaches | US EPA. (n. d. ). Home | Water | US EPA. Retrieved April 09, 2012, from http://water. epa. gov/type/oceb/beaches/pollution. cfm DeTorres, C. , & Bronzan, J. (n. d. ). NRDC: Testing the Waters 2011. Natural Resources Defense Council and The Earth’s Best Defense | NRDC. Retrieved April 9, 2012, from http://www. nrdc. org/water/oceans/ttw/faq. asp Home. (n. d. ). Home. Retrieved April 10, 2012, from http://www. groundtruthtrekking. org Plastics in Our Oceans. (n. d. ). Home : Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Retrieved April 12, 2012, from http://www. whoi. edu/science/B/people/kamaral/plasticsarticle. html Save The Bay (San Francisco) | San Francisco Bay’s leading champion since 1961.. (n. d. ). Save The Bay (San Francisco) | San Francisco Bay’s leading champion since 1961.. Retrieved April 09, 2012, from http://www. savesfbay. org

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