Samples Cause and Effect Groundwater Pollution

Groundwater Pollution

697 words 3 page(s)

Groundwater is essential to life in many regions; in the U.S. alone 50% of people living in the country use groundwater as drinking water (The Groundwater Foundation 2012). Groundwater can be used for other sources as well. Despite its national and global importance, groundwater is subject to pollution from various sources. The primary source of contamination and pollution of groundwater is human contamination. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1991) groundwater contamination nearly always results from human causes. The only way to remedy groundwater contamination is to understand how humans contribute to groundwater pollution, in an effort to curb groundwater pollution.

Groundwater pollution begins at the source. Pollution is more common in regions of high population density; in other words, groundwater pollution is more common in areas where pollution density is high, or in areas where land use by humans is intense (EPA, 1991). Other causes for groundwater pollution include the release by humans of chemicals or waste products into the environment; this can be done by companies or by individuals, intentionally or unintentionally (EPA, 1991; The Groundwater Foundation, 2012). Often contamination of groundwater results in cleanup efforts that are costly and sometimes inefficient.

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Many people live under the false impression that groundwater is safe, because it tests safe for initial consumption or use. This may not necessarily be true however. Contaminants that reach the surface of the environment do not always seep into groundwater immediately. Often pouring toxic chemicals onto soil or other surfaces can result in pollution that takes time to reach groundwater. A frequent source of pollution includes leakage or the outflow of septic tanks and other septic or disposal systems particularly in the United States; in fact nearly one-fourth of homes use septic systems to eliminate waste in the U.S. (EPA, 1991). Other sources of pollution caused by humans include chemical runoff by carwashes, gas stations, paint shops and painting generally, medical waste, waste generated from scrap yards, fuel and fuel oil, household products including cleaning products, swimming pool runoff and including chemicals used to clean swimming pools, and contaminants from municipal landfills (EPA, 1991). Understanding where pollution comes from is the first step toward preventing and reducing groundwater pollution caused by human consumption and use of hazardous materials.

Gruver (2011) suggests another source of groundwater pollution may be human behaviors, including consumption and use of natural resources in unnatural ways. In recent years the oil industry has been turning to new methods of recovering oil from shale. This method, known as fracking, has caused great controversy because of its potential to produce groundwater pollution. Fracking requires pumping pressurized water and other chemicals underground to help boost the flow of oil and gas to the surface for consumption (Gruver, 2011). While this method is very effective for helping to gather natural resources, the EPA reports that the compounds produced as a result of fracking may result in excessive chemicals being leaked into groundwater. Health officials suggest that fracking is one of many human activities in recent years that have resulted in extraneous strain on the environment (Gruver, 2011). Other common sources include fertilizer application and pesticide use which may reach shallow aquifiers (Yadav, Arun, Sonje, Abhijit, Mathur, Priyanka et. Al 2012).

Transfer of pollution from municipal or commercial waste disposal sites or household hazardous waste is often referred to as point source contamination; understanding this source of pollution and measuring it directly or quantifying this source of contamination is the first step toward reducing groundwater pollution. Creating mandates, policies, and laws that regulate the amount of safe groundwater contamination, cleanup regulations and monitoring of environmental pollutant use, as well as consumer and commercial education is one step in the right direction toward reducing pollution and further prevention of groundwater pollution.

  • EPA. “Getting Up to Speed. Wellheed Protection: A Guide for Small Communities Chapter 3.”
    EPA/624/R-93/002. 2012. Web. 25 October 25, 2013
  • Gruver, Mead. “EPA: Fracking May Cause Groundwater Pollution.” USA Today. 12/8/2011.
    Web. 25 October 2013.
  • The Groundwater Foundation. “Threats to Our Groundwater.” 2012. Web. 25 October 2012.
  • Yadav, Arun, Sonje, Abhijit, Mathur, Priyanka, et al. “Detailed Study of Groundwater,
    Contamination Sources, and Approaches to Clean Ground Water.” International Journal of Comprehensive Pharmacy. Vol. 2:2. 25 October 2013:

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