Is dilution a solution to pollution
Quote by Dr. Sherry Rogers: “The solution to pollution is dilution. It is ve...”
The Solution to Pollution is Dilution? No…
Nearly 30 years after passage of the Clean Water Act CWA , toxic industrial and municipal wastes are still being dumped into our rivers, streams, lakes and coastal waters. C-SAW is working with local and national organizations to reduce or eliminate specific mixing zones, to tighten state and federal mixing-zone regulations and to challenge the rules supporting mixing-zone use in federal court. Across the country, clean-water activists are mounting challenges to the use of mixing zones. The Washington State Toxics Coalition and Citizens for a Healthy Bay are fighting the allocation of a mixing zone for the Cascade Pole and Lumber Company that would allow the release of high levels of wood preservatives chromated copper arsenate, creosote and pentachlorophenol into the Puyallyup River. The Washington Department of Ecology knows the facility will immediately exceed its permit limits even with mixing allowances because a diffuser a multi-port discharge pipe has yet to be constructed. Rather than restrict discharges until the treatment system is fully operational, the state has proposed allowing the discharges to proceed as if the diffuser were already in place and has assumed that there was no pre-existing contamination — despite the fact the plant has been releasing persistent pollutants at the same locations for years.
Dilution was the solution to pollution when populations were small. Everything people wanted to get rid of went into the water. These wastes were typically organic, such as human wastes and animal carcasses. They became food for animals, macroinvertebrates, bacteria, and fungi that broke down the waste. As small villages grew into towns and towns into cities, waterways were overwhelmed by the amount of disposed wastes, and many rivers became open sewers. A larger problem developed during the Industrial Revolution.
As a scientist you may have been trained to use radioactive elements in your experiments, and you were probably taught that it is ok to pour your waste materials down the sink and let dilution take care of any nasty effects. In fact, this approach is widespread. Dilution is one of the most common method for dealing with many kinds of waste, across a wide range of industrial, agricultural and domestic sources. With the risks posed by pollution continuing to threaten our environment, we need to look to science to help us find better ways to deal with waste materials. There are several problems with assuming that dilution will remove any threats posed by contaminants in the environment. For example, lab tests might show that dilution can reduce the activity of a contaminant to insignificant levels, but the environment is a lot more complicated and dynamic than the lab. At times, scientists have been surprised that pollutants can still cause problems in the environment, even when present at very low levels.