Menace of Ocean Pollution and Its Impact on Ecosystems and Human Health
The Earth is covered by oceans. The ocean covers more than 70% of the Earth’s surface, holds 97% of the world’s water, hosts some of the planet’s most diverse ecosystems, and supports economies in countries around the world. There are many causes of why our oceans are becoming toxic. Ocean pollution is widespread, becoming worse by the decade, and shows a clear and present threat to human health. According to a Boston College study, more than 80 percent comes from land-based sources, and it reaches the oceans through rivers, runoff, and deposition from the atmosphere. Airborne pollutants are washed into the ocean by rain and snow and direct dumping, such as pollution from waste-water treatment plants and discarded waste.
Causes of Ocean Pollution
The ocean is an important aspect of human health and human life. It provides food to billions of people and livelihood to millions of people. In spite of the ocean’s size, it is not safe and is under threat. The main source of the ocean’s threat is human activity. The toxification of the ocean is caused by multiple things, mainly pollution and hazardous waste material released into the environment due to human activities. Pollution is also a great and growing threat to human health. According to M.D P. Landrigan in a Boston college-led study, This is the largest environmental cause of disease in the world today, responsible for an estimated 9 million premature deaths per year. The toxification of the ocean would not only lead to the loss of millions of human lives but would also cause huge economic losses.
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There are several causes as to why the ocean is becoming toxic. One of the main causes is the Dumping of Sewage; this happens more often as dumping of sewage waste into the ocean is the cheapest and easiest method of sewage disposal. Most of the untreated sewage that may contain lethal or hazardous substances makes its way into the ocean waters through the sewage systems, which causes severe effects on the health of marine animals and flora.
Another source of pollutants in the oceans is Industrial Chemicals. These untreated discharges of chemicals are also released into water bodies from several industries. Industries like fossil fuel, plastic manufacturing, agrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, and more. Typically contains harmful toxins like mercury, phthalates, Bisphenol-A, and other chemical substances. These substances make the oceans toxic by altering the pH level of the ocean water, which in turn contributes to the deaths of marine animals. This could also pose a threat to human life as toxins enter the bodies of marine animals. They are further transferred up the food chain, which will reach humans through the consumption of marine animals in toxic waters.
According to researchers, the increased buildup of harmful chemicals in the ocean leads to Eutrophication. The combination of hazardous waste, sewage dumping, and more leads to an alarming growth rate of algae and other life-threatening microorganisms that will inevitably disrupt the ocean ecosystem. This will lead to the depletion of oxygen due to Eutrophication and will cause a formation of dead zones in the ocean.
- “Plastic Ocean: How a Sea Captain’s Chance Discovery Launched a Determined Quest to Save the Oceans” by Captain Charles Moore
- “The Outlaw Ocean: Journeys Across the Last Untamed Frontier” by Ian Urbina
- “The World Is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean’s Are One” by Sylvia A. Earle