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Water pollution

Water pollution has many sources and characteristics. Humans and other organisms produce bodily wastes which enter rivers, lakes, oceans, and other surface waters; in high concentrations these wastes result in bacterial contamination and excessive nutrient loading. Industries discharge a variety of toxic compounds and heavy metals, and industrial process wastewater may also be too hot or too low in dissolved oxygen to support life. Silt-bearing runoff from construction sites and farms can inhibit the penetration of sunlight through the water column, and hampers water organisms in their search for food.


The causes of water pollution can be divided into two groups: anthropogenic sources of pollution are those due to human choices, and natural sources are those resulting from forces intrinsic to the environment. Anthropogenic sources include:

Natural sources include: Contaminants

Contaminants may include organic and inorganic substances. Organic water pollutants include:

Inorganic pollutants include: Further reading


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Homepage, " class="external">

Kentucky Division of Water Homepage, " class="external">

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