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Lake Erie is among the Great Lakes (Ylvisaker, 2004). It is located in the northern part of USA and borders Canada on its north shore. The lake is famous for hosting the largest population of freshwater fish among the Great Lakes, but this is not the thing it is famous for. The lake has garnered enormous infamy for being the most polluted lake among the Great Lakes; this pollution has led to periodic dead zones (Ylvisaker, 2004). The pollution in the lake has various sources, but the two primary ones are from point and non-point sources. Researchers from 5 Gyres Institute have discovered that Lake Erie holds the densest concentrations of plastics among the Great Lakes, and most others water bodies. The highest proportion of these plastics comes from non-point sources such as neighborhoods, garbage from beaches and river banks. All these plastics are washed into the sewers that eventually make their way to the lake (Ylvisaker, 2004). The plastics don’t biodegrade; they mostly break down into small pieces commonly termed as ‘mermaid tears’. Lake Erie has also been classified as the lake with the highest levels of mercury in the Great Lakes (Stamper et al. 2007). This mercury comes from point sources such as the coal-fired power plants. Ohio has 22 coal power plants, but none of them has been fitted with technology to reduce mercury emission (). All the emitted mercury is deposited locally ().
Data from Environment America Research and Policy Center shows that 226 million pounds of harmful chemicals find a way to American rivers and lakes (Kerth et al. 2012). In the state of Ohio, a portion of these pollutants finds their way into Lake Erie and the Ohio River. Lake Erie, as discussed above, has the highest percentage of pollution compared to the other Great Lakes (Ylvisaker, 2004). The Ohio River has a length of 981 miles, and it passes through 6 states. The river has been termed as the most polluted in the United States (Jackson, 2004). The state of Ohio has not ignored the importance pollution free water, and it has set up measures towards this end. With the help of the BEACH Act, the state monitors the beaches along 53 miles of Lake Erie (United States, 2007). The testing helps to keep and maintain quality standards in the waters. The state has also put into place a Nutrient Reduction Strategy that aims to reduce nutrients in water systems that wreck havoc on aquatic life.
Scientists and environmentalist have been making a lot of noise about the accumulation of plastics in the ocean, mainly the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (Newman, 2014). Contrary to what the name might suggest the garbage patch is not a stationary island of trash but the pieces are floating and moving, constantly pushed by the currents. The plastic is very harmful to aquatic life that might choke when they ingest it. The trash is deposited in land masses, and islands of the Hawaiian archipelago have suffered the biggest blunt with their beaches being covered in more than five feet of waste (Macdonald et al. 2003). The plastic are not all large; the highest percentage are tiny particles not readily visible to the human eye. These particles float on the surface where they are ingested by organism that feed on the surface of water bodies which is very harmful to them (Graham and Thompson, 2009).
Nearly one billion people in third world countries do not have access to safe drinking water and it is estimated that people need at least 30 liters of water daily for cooking, drinking and general cleanliness (WHO/UNICEF, 2012). Lack of safe drinking water has adverse effects on someone’s life. It is estimated that every year 1.8 million people die from water-borne diseases such as cholera (WHO/UNICEF, 2012). Drinking contaminated water is harmful to people’s lives. Other than the sickness lack of safe water can lead to perennial poverty. When people are too sick to work, children too ill to go to school; these handicaps result in lost economic opportunities that lead to poverty (Langwith, 2010).
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