Impact of Chemical Waste on Water Streams
Improperly managed chemical waste may pollute and contaminate water streams. There are many causes of this type of industrial water pollution, which has both serious and negative impacts on aquatic and human life.
The term “Chemical Waste” includes harmful chemical by-products from manufacturing facilities and laboratories and smaller scale chemicals disposed of from businesses and households. A lot of chemical waste can be classified as hazardous waste depending on the recommended disposal procedure.
Examples of Chemical Waste (*Including, not Limited to):
- Manufacturing or Laboratory By-Products
- Reagent grade chemicals
- Used oil
- Spent Solvents
- Solutions and Chemicals for Film Processing
- Gas Cylinders
- Chemically Contaminated Objects – Syringes, Needles, Razors
- Chemical Powders
- Electronic Equipment
- Toner / Print Cartridges
- Ethylene Glycol
- Fluorescent Light Bulbs
- Lighting Ballasts
- Industrial Cleaning Materials
- Glues and Adhesives
- Resin Including: Epoxy, Styrene
- Degreasing Solvent
- Fluids Including: Transmission, Radiator, Brake and Steering Fluids
- Cleaning Products
- Aerosol Cans
*Please note, this is not a definitive list and you should check your MSDS for proper waste classification.
How Chemical Waste Causes Industrial Water Pollution
Industrial sites, construction sites and factories produce toxic chemicals or use them in manufacturing. The chemicals are then exposed to rainwater which causes them to be washed into the soil or directly into rivers, streams or lakes. This is one of the main factors leading to an increase in industrial water pollution.
This is water that is underneath the ground and cannot be seen unless you dig for it. Pollutants get washed into the soil and quickly contaminates the water underneath. This groundwater seeps into lakes, rivers and other important water sources.
Waste from homes or industry which has been illegally dumped causes a significant amount of pollution. Often this happens near a water source where people may believe the pollution and evidence will be washed away, which has harmful consequences for the water source.
Sewerage and Septic Systems
Human waste can cause dangerous bacteria to spread if it contaminates a water supply. Often these systems are not maintained regularly enough and accidents happen, causing leakage into water supplies.
Leaks and Spills
Human error and negligence can lead to chemical spills and leaks. Leaks and spills can quickly make their way to water streams if not contained and cleared.
Outdated Machinery and Tech
This usually comes down to cost. Modern systems cost a lot to implement so many industries use outdated technology which is less advanced and can cause more pollution than necessary.
Lack of Investment
Investment in pollution control equipment, measures and management can be costly as outlined above. Due to this it is often not prioritised.
Large scale growth can lead to a disregard for pollution. A lack of chemical waste disposal sites and services is put aside to continue with a growing economy.
The Damage Caused by Chemical Waste & Pollution
When polluted water makes its way into important water resources it becomes unfit for consumption and purpose. In the developed world this is problematic and expensive to fix – even taking years. In the developing world, this can have a detrimental effect on communities as there may be difficulty getting clean drinking water.
Aquatic and marine life are very sensitive to the condition and temperature of water bodies. Thermal pollution can happen when harmful chemicals are deposited at the bottom of a water body. Over time, this can cause serious health issues for people living nearby, animals and marine life.
Increase in Nutrients
Also known as eutrophication, excess nutrients cause algae bloom which reduces the oxygen levels in water. This, in turn, causes large-scale algae loss. The ability of the water body to support aquatic life is reduced.
Murky water stops the sunlight reaching bottom level plants and can block fish gills causing disease and death to aquamarine life. Murky water doesn’t just mean floating sediment, quite often it is a warning sign for a more serious problem.
This can affect animals higher in the food chain i.e. humans. Increased levels of toxic substances can cause genetic defects, disease, headaches, nausea and many more issues that can seriously impact human life.
Ensure Safe and Compliant Disposal of Chemical Waste
It is your responsibility to avoid environmental consequences and penalties for unsafe chemical waste disposal procedures. For a matter this important, we urge you to use qualified experts.