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Lecture 9

Geography 2011A/B Lecture 9: Environmental Issues

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Geography 2011A/B
Wendy Dickinson

2011 – Week 11 Pathways of Pollution Atmospheric Deposition • Toxic chemicals carried long distances -- Anything in air can contain toxic and non toxic chemicals, any chemical released in air is transported in air • Difficult to control • Examples: o Acid Rain o Smog o Particulate Matter • Cant measure exactly • In summer air comes up through US that carries smog • Things are added then moved over Atlantic • Cant fix this by ourselves • Mountains stop the smog, nothing to stop our air bodies from moving through Non-Point Sources of Pollution • Hard to regulate, need international agreement • Indirect pollution Contaminated Sediments • Pre-regulation high levels of contamination in sediments • Can be stirred up, resuspended, redistributed • Removal is difficult • Disposal -- appropriate dumping areas? • There because it was never regulated before • Goes into water and it hits larger bodies of water, slows down, then drops  seen in harbors and rivers in particular • Problem because storm and shipping can stir sediments, biotic activity • Redistributed up food chain • Don’t want to mix with water  barges that vacuum to stop this • Moving chemicals around • Places where areas were bad • In 43 areas (harbors/rivers) are areas of concern • In each area, example of contamination • Black wedges are what we cleaned up  not very much, working slowly Groundwater Movement • Water slowly passes through the ground and picks up dissolved materials that have been buried or soaked into the ground • When water in ground comes across contaminants, picks up and moves • Moves into water table • Now buried in landfills to prevent this  from before though • Mediated a little bit, know a little bit • Don’t know where people are burying their garbage Surface Runoff • Urban and agricultural sources contribute toxins such as salt, asbestos, cadmium, lead, oils and greases • Water that doesn’t infiltrate into ground • Hits hard surface i.e. road, frozen ground getting rain, melting snow on saturated grass • Running directly into rivers/stream • Removing vegetation means that it hits river quicker  land use comes into play • Tend to add chemicals into any area that is used for land • Now has better regulation for pesticides Point Sources of Pollution • Direct Discharges • specific owners: easily sampled - regulation is very successful • Pipes • Usually pipes with permits  cant discharge whatever you want • Should be easy  set of pollutants looking for, set of pipes, obligation to regulate, sample, report • Have stopped doing, or failed to successfully complete Pollution Control • Point Sources: o once identified and regulated, pollution control mechanisms work really well • Non-point sources: o difficult to control o other avenues – public education, voluntary action and pollution prevention • Need to control and reduce • Has worked and can work, need fines if exceeding agreement to released • Everything we do can contribute  we can choose human behavior Pollution Prevention • Eliminating pollutants before they are produced • How? o changing production processes o opting for environmentally-friendly alternatives o banning the production, extraction and use • Idea is that we shouldn’t have it • All agreed to get rid of • Works when you have everyone on board, plan, notice • Don’t ban because its destructive  other things should have same attention and its not Environmental Issues Improvement Over Time • 1972 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement o Lake Erie o Phosphorous Loadings o Non-persistent pollution • 1978 GLWQA o Toxic Contaminants o Virtual Elimination/Zero Discharge o Persistent pollution • 1987 GLWQA - AOCs and RAPs o Hotspots • 2012 GLWQA – reaffirming all of the above o Haven’t gotten far Conventional Wisdom – True or False • Overall loadings have been reduced o TRUE, but they are increasing again • Level of toxicity continues to decline o FALSE – levelled off and increasing • End-of-pipe is under control o FALSE – point source discharges increasing • Non-point sources are being regulated o TRUE, but there is little information • Based on government data • Did end with elimination, went way down • More chemical and pipes, not new regulation • If you only level off then increase about of pollution • Everything with persistent stays out there • More participants in pollution economy • No point sources are regulated Pollution in Great Lakes rising despite cleanup effort, study says • Industrial releases of toxic materials took off from 1998 to 2002 • Despite decades of effort cleaning up the Great Lakes, industrial discharges of water pollutants into the lakes are rising • • Nobodies reporting • Need permit, sample, and report with pipe • Drew conclusions from these • Pollution is rising and more Pollutants increased 21% between 1998 and 2002 • 23 % at U.S. companies • 13 % at Canadian ones • Finding is unexpected o Billions of dollars have been spent trying to clean up the environment • Actual amount of regulated things • Point source is supposed to be easy • More pollution=pipes=permission=pollution "We have not solved the water-pollution problem," • Reasons are not clear. • First comprehensive look at industrial pollution trends in the Great Lakes region in about a decade. • “Governments stopped extensive monitoring of pollutant releases because the Great Lakes were believed to be returning to good health. But if discharges are rising again, the lack of scrutiny is misplaced, according to one of those who worked on the report. • The failure of governments to compile this data is "a real indictment of the lack of attention being paid to Great Lakes issues." • All pollution treatment plants are producing more pollutants than most industry • Volume of untreated sewage • We know the solution to this problem  more/better/different sewage so untreated doenst get released into system • More of them are taken action on to remove • Coal plants are removed Pollution Watch – 2006 Data • Ontario ranks #1 in Canada for air releases of toxic pollutants • Ontario ranks #1 for air releases of carcinogens • Ontario ranks #1 for air releases of toxic pollutants associated with reproductive and developmental effects Pollution Watch 2010 Report on the Great Lakes Water Quality • 285 million kg of pollutants were released into the water from NPRI and TRI facilities in the Great Lakes‐ St. Lawrence River basin in 2007 • Approximately 75 million kg of pollutants were released into the air from matched NPRI and TRI facilities • On a per facility basis, Canadian NPRI facilities emitted to the air, on average, almost three times more known carcinogens and more than twice the reproductive/developmental toxins than U.S. TRI facilities. State of the Great Lakes Report 2009 • In 2008, the overall status of the GL ecosystem was assessed as mixed because some conditions or areas were good while others were poor. The trends of Great Lakes ecosystem conditions varied: some conditions were improving and some were deteriorating • Invasive species: Deteriorating – New Nonnative species, now totaling 185 aquatic and at least 157 terrestrial species, continue to be discovered in the GL. Each new non-native species can interact with the ecosystem in unpredictable ways, with at least 10% of them considered invasive • Contamination: Improving – Releases of targeted bioaccumulative toxic chemicals have declined significantly from their peak period in past decades and, for the most part, no longer limit the reproduction of fish, birds, and mammals. Concentrations of contaminants in the open waters are low, and many contaminants further declining. However, concentrations are higher in some local areas near the shore, such as some bays and Areas of Concern. The lakes continue to be a receptor of contaminants from many different sources, such as municipal and industrial wastewater, air pollution, contaminated sediments, runoff, and groundwater o Put regulations in place but drawing conclusions of what we know is untrue (persistent pollutants) • Phosphorus: Unchanging in Superior, Erie, Huron, Improving in Michigan and Ontario – Excessive inputs of phosphorus to the lakes from detergents, sewage treatment plants, agricultural runoff, and industrial discharges can result in nuisance algae growth. Efforts that began in th
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