Threats to the purity of lake water

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uppladdat: 2000-07-05
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The number of mankind has today become so immense that everything that we do has an impact on everything that surrounds us. We are slowly destroying life and things that we are depending on. This text is focused on one big issue concerning environmental health; the purity of lakes. Which are the threats?

Acidification has always played a roll in the lake environment but lately the process has increased 200-300 times. The reason for this immense change is industrialisation. The acidification in Sweden is mostly due to the effluents from the industries all over Europe. The contamination, mainly sulphuric acid, travels through the air and falls down to the earth with the rain or snow. This is called acid rain. It does not matter whether it lands on the ground or on the water surface. The acid follows the ground water until it ends up in a lake or the ocean. If the lake is situated above a limestone area the chances of acidification is lower since the lime neutralise the acid. The lake will however become sour if the acidification is to massive. Life in the lake will change drastically with the increase of acid. As the pH value sinks, the life in the lake vanishes. The spices that live near the bottom are the ones that are most sensitive, they die when the pH value reaches 6. Fish can stand lower levels, but at 4.5 they will also die. Every time the level is lowered with one unit the acidification in the lake has increased ten times. The best thing to do in a attempt to stop the acidification is to lower the effluents or terminate them totally. This is a vain wish though. The actions that could be taken are to add lime to the water. Then the lime will blend with the water and neutralise the lake. This procedure must be done every second to third year since the lime get consumed. If the acidification were to stop this day, it still would take several years to bring the lakes back to where they were before the industrialisation.

The environment is constantly being exposed to different ecologically harmful poisons. The danger with them is not only their effect on organisms, but also their long existence in the environment. Poisons are hard to break down and the procedure to transform them to non-harmful products can take several years. The contamination are spread with the air and water and since they have a long lasting effect the area that it effects can become large. Some of the poisons exist naturally in the environment e.g. in the ground and the rock foundation, but the amount of the poison is so low or sealed in the rock foundation that it does not threaten the water. The risk increases when a large quantity is mixed with the water. Many heavy metals are flushed into the water and may cause severe damage to the fishes and other life that is located in the lake.

Poisons have sources from the whole society. Cars spit out gases and other poisons like oil and glycol. Farmers use chemical substances in their fertilisers that follow the ground waters to lakes and poisons them. The sources of ecologically harmful poisons are many but many of them have the same result; they are damaging the lake water.

Every lake is depending on nourishment for its survival but too big amounts of nourishment can be a hazard. The life in the lake can change and some spices can either become extinct or dominant. The threat is called excessive fertilisation. Items that causes the threat is e.g. farms and motorways. Discharge from the traffic is a problem, the substance mixes with the water and causes excessive fertilisation. The farmers fertilise their fields to improve their crop. The manure that the soil does not consumed is brought with the ground water to the lakes and fertilise them instead. Phosphor and nitrogen contamination makes the production of biological material grow bigger, e.g. bacteria, plants, animals and algae. Dead algae is a big hazard towards the lake life. The alga falls to the bottom and starts to metabolise, the process demands oxygen and takes it from the other life that is depending on it. This can very well lead to the extinction of fishes and animals that lives near the bottom. There is currently no effective way to stop the excessive fertilisation in Sweden. There are some laws that stops the farmers to use their fertilisation unlimited. The best thing to do to try to stop the excessive fertilisation today would be to keep the soil covered with plants that can ...

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