Coastal Water: Pollution

Authored by: Piotr Szefer

Encyclopedia of Environmental Management

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  December  2012

Print ISBN: 9781439829271
eBook ISBN: 9781351235860
Adobe ISBN:


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As a result of human activities, different types of pollutants enter marine ecosystems, especially the coastal and estuarine areas. Persistent pollutants have become a global concern because of their accumulative and biomagnification abilities, along with successive levels of the aquatic trophic chain. Heavy metals, metalloids, and organic pollutants pose a huge health hazard to marine organisms and humans. In contrast to organic pollutants, the former are present at a natural background level, particularly in the abiotic and biotic components of marine ecosystems. Human industrial and agricultural activities result in the elevation of the natural content of chemical elements that are sometimes attained at significantly higher levels. As for nutrients, their elevated levels in coastal waters can cause eutrophication and proliferation of toxic algal blooms. The recently observed increase in tanker operations and oil use as well as marine tanker catastrophes has been responsible for the presence of excessively large amounts of oil spillage in coastal and marine ecosystems. Marine debris, especially plastics, is one of the most pervasive pollution problems. In spite of their knowledge on environmental pollutant toxicity, most developing countries still contribute to the significant amount of pollution in inshore waters.

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