MadSci Network: Environment/Ecology

Re: 'Water Pollution' How does water pollution effect plants

Date: Wed Jun 3 13:23:30 1998
Posted By: Karen Culver-Rymsza, Grad student oceanography
Area of science: Environment/Ecology
ID: 893375368.En


This question is much too broad to answer in this format.  I urge you to 
seek information in your local library or go to the library at a nearby 
university, agricultural experiment station, or EPA office. 

Sounds like a cop-out doesn't it? Well here is why. The term "pollution" 
can cover a variety of physical and chemical changes made to the natural 
system, in this case water. How they affect plants depends on the nature of 
the pollutant. Here are a few examples. Nitrate fertilizer is a pollutant 
in many areas. Nitrate can be toxic to humans especially young children and 
infants. They are far from toxic to plants, however, and are basically a 
fertilizer, resulting in increased growth of emergent plants and algae. 
This can be a boon to plant eating organisms in the water body or can 
result in noxious algal blooms and perhaps low oxygen levels when the 
bloom dies out.  Another example is heavy metal pollution. There is 
evidence that heavy metals can be toxic to some plants and algae, but many 
fish appear resistant to heavy metals. Some fish concentrate metals in 
their tissues making them toxic to us, though. And how about turbidity? 
Turbidity, or the amount of particulate material in water makes water 
unpleasant to look at, especially in drinking water settings. No-one wants 
to drink cloudy or brown water, even if that water contains no harmful 
constituents. That turbidity, however, lowers the amount of light that 
reaches submerged plants and algae, decreasing their photosynthetic 

I could go on and on. There are many books written on this subject with 
more examples, and more pollutants. Happy hunting! 

Current Queue | Current Queue for Environment/Ecology | Environment/Ecology archives

Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Environment/Ecology.

MadSci Home | Information | Search | Random Knowledge Generator | MadSci Archives | Mad Library | MAD Labs | MAD FAQs | Ask a ? | Join Us! | Help Support MadSci

MadSci Network,
© 1995-1998. All rights reserved.