CT: Our ocean and coastal areas provide us with a lot – from food, places to boat and swim, and wildlife to enjoy…the list goes on. So when these areas become polluted and unhealthy, it isn’t just bad for the environment, it’s also bad for us. At NOS, scientists, economists, and other experts are busy monitoring, assessing, and working to clean up contaminants in the environment.
The source: A wide range of chemicals can contaminate our water, land, or air, impacting the environment and our health. Most contaminants enter the environment from industrial and commercial facilities; oil and chemical spills; non-point sources such as roads, parking lots, and storm drains; and wastewater treatment plants and sewage systems. Many hazardous waste sites and industrial facilities have been contaminated for decades and continue to affect the environment.
The impact: Contaminants in the environment can look and smell pretty nasty, but their impacts go beyond just aesthetics. Some pollutants resist breakdown and accumulate in the food chain. These pollutants can be consumed or absorbed by fish and wildlife, which in turn may be eaten by us. Chemicals can also get into sediments, impacting large coastal areas, threatening human health, and reducing the economic well being of regions that depend on a healthy coastal environment.
S: http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/observations/contam/ (last access: 18 February 2015)
N: 1. From contaminate (v.), early 15c., from Old French contaminer, from Latin contaminatus, past participle of contaminare “to defile,” from contamen “contact, pollution,” from com- “together” (see com-) + tag-, base of tangere “to touch” (see tangent (adj.)). Related: Contaminant (1934); contaminable.
2. A physical, chemical, biological or radiological substance (present) in the air, soil or water … with a concentration that exceeds background levels or which is not naturally occurring in the environment.
S: 1. OED – http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=contaminant (last access: 17 February 2015). 2. TERMIUM PLUS (last access: 17 February 2015).