Date of the last update: 11.04.2022
High levels of ocean pollution are a global problem that humans need to face. The situation is not made any easier by the fact that threats to the waters we use come from a variety of sources. This article looks at the key causes and consequences of ocean pollution. It also explains what we can do to avoid making the current situation even worse.
Table of Contents:
- Industrial activity and its influence on water pollution
- Oil pollution in the oceans
- Natural phenomena and their negative impact on the oceans
- The problem of plastic waste
- How can we prevent ocean pollution?
You can read this article in 4 minutes.
Industrial activity and its influence on water pollution
The largest share of pollutants in water comes from land and air, and is directly related to industrial production. Problems with the quality of water in the seas and oceans include mainly sewage (especially the high content of drugs, detergents, plastic and paper), chemical waste containing heavy metals (e.g. lead in petrol) and oil spills. When harmful chemicals get into water, they stimulate the growth of pathogenic bacteria and viruses. Water contaminated in this way poses an epidemiological threat to humans.
Oil pollution in the oceans
Oil spills present one of the greatest threats to the oceans, so they are even defined as environmental disasters. It should be noted here, however, that the spectacular and widely discussed in the media tanker accidents, despite causing gigantic contamination over vast areas, account for only about 1/9 of all oil pollution! Most of this contamination comes from spills into the soil, which are much easier to hide. They are the ones posing the most serious risk that must be faced.
Natural phenomena and their negative impact on the oceans
Human activities, especially those related to the development of such areas as agriculture, mining, and industrial production, contribute significantly to the pollution of the seas and oceans. However, harmful substances also end up in the waters as a result of naturally occurring phenomena, such as earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. For example, the lava fog caused by lava flowing into the ocean contains a very dangerous secondary hydrogen chloride.
The problem of plastic waste
The data in this regard are merciless – mass production of disposable, plastic packaging is the main reason why more and more of it gets into the seas and oceans. It is estimated that 5 to almost 13 million tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans each year! This has dire consequences for the climate, tourism, fishing industry, human health and, especially, the life of marine organisms that become entangled in waste or mistake it for food.
How can we prevent ocean pollution?
Because of various forms of ocean pollution, it is nearly impossible to find one specific recipe for solving this problem. It is certainly important to limit the use of throwaway products as they account for the largest share of the waste found in oceans. Using ecological detergents and reducing pesticide consumption is also worth consideration. In addition to individual measures, institutional steps are necessary to reduce water consumption in industrial plants and impose high penalties for disclosed cases of water pollution.
Herdzik J., Skutki ekologiczne dla mórz i oceanów wybranych zagrożeń i zdarzeń wypadkowych, Bezpieczeństwo i ekologia, „Autobusy”, 10/2016, pp. 39-44.
Gromiec M., Sadurski A., Zalewski M., Rowiński P., Zagrożenia związane z jakością wody, Nauka, 1/2014, pp. 99-122.
Eco Chemia, Zanieczyszczenia wód, https://ecochemia.pl/blog/zanieczyszczenia-wod/, date of access: 12.11.2021.
https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/pl/headlines/society/20181005STO15110/plastik-w-oceanach-fakty-skutki-oraz-nowe-przepisy-ue, date of access: 12.11.2021.