In today’s world there are very few places, if any, that are not affected by human activities. Even in the high arctic, winds and water currents carry environmental contaminants, such as heavy metals and industrial chemicals, from the south.
Many of these environmental contaminants are not only a threat to wildlife and the natural environment, but to the health of people living in the area.
There are many different substances that are released into the environment and may pose a threat to human health.
Living things require varying amounts of some heavy metals, such as iron and zinc. Too much of these metals can be toxic to living things. Other heavy metals such as mercury and lead are not required by living things, and their accumulation over time can cause serious illness.
The most common source of heavy metal pollution is from the smelting of ores when purifying other metals. Heavy metals do not break down in the environment and can pose health and environmental risks for years.
The chemicals used by farmers, and on our lawns to kill weeds, insects and other pests, can pose serious environmental and health concerns if used incorrectly. Spraying pesticides on windy days, or just before it rains, or near streams and ponds, increases the chance that these chemicals will contaminate nearby water supplies putting people at risk.
Many potentially toxic chemicals are used and produced in various workplaces. If they are not handled or disposed of properly, they can pose a risk to the environment and human health.
Many potentially toxic chemicals are used and produced in various workplaces. If they are not handled or disposed of properly, they can pose a risk to the environment and human health
Some chemicals, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are highly toxic, have been banned from use because the risk to human health and the environment was too great. Many other potentially hazardous chemicals are still in daily use in the workplace. It is important to follow instructions on the MSDS for safe handling and disposal of any hazardous material.
Assignment One: Local Pollution
Unfortunately, environmental pollution and contaminants affect every community, even your own, in some way. Research environmental pollutants in the area you live. Based on your research, which of the environmental pollutants in your area do you believe to be the most serious?
In the discussion area BELOW post your opinion on the most serious environmental pollutant in your area and the reasons for your choice. Read your classmates’ ideas and respond to at least two other post.
Assignment Two: Heavy Metals
You will research one of the following six heavy metals:
Then record your response to the following questions. You will put this assignment in the SVN3E courseware—”Heavy Metal”.
1. Name the heavy metal you chose and describe its physical characteristics.
2. What is the major source that this heavy metal comes from.
3. Explain how this metal can enter the body.
4. Describe any short-term health effects of poisoning by this metal.
5. Are there any long-term health effects of the metal accumulating in the body?
What can people do to minimize their exposure to this metal and reduce the risk of negative health effects?