Why are rivers a concern?
Rivers provide people with natural water for recreation, travel, and even food. They also provide habitat for wildlife, plants, and aquatic life. But rivers can be polluted by natural processes, industrial sources, and human activities. Tiny soil particles, metals, and erosion can pollute river water. River pollution can come from agriculture, forestry, mining, urban and industrial runoff, and wastewater treatment plants. Human activities such as development, dredging, dam construction, and boating can also pollute river water.
Pollution in rivers can cause skin infections and health problems if it contaminates drinking water. Pesticides can accumulate in fish and streambed soil, posing potential risks to human health, aquatic life, and fish-eating wildlife. Fish may contain small amounts of mercury or PCBs. State and local governments may restrict fishing for food use in heavily polluted areas. Where rivers are clean, recent studies have concluded that the health benefits of eating fish far outweigh any potential health risks from traces of contaminants.
Bacteria and viruses in rivers or other water sources can cause human illnesses.
Web Links from MedlinePlus (National Library of Medicine)
Water Safety (Recreational)
Healthy Swimming (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Office of Water home page (Environmental Protection Agency)
Surf Your Watershed (Environmental Protection Agency)
Chemicals in Waterways
Are these chemicals in MY environment?
Volatile Organic Compounds
Last Updated: October 28, 2008