Many human activities release environmental contaminants into the Georgia Basin. When the concentrations of these contaminants become harmful to a plant, animal or its habitat, they are referred to as pollutants.

pollutionPollution can be called point source pollution or non-point source pollution.

Examples of point source pollution include a pipe discharging dirty water into a river or the ocean, or a smokestack releasing dark smoke into the air.

Examples of non-point source pollution include the many farms, homes and industries that use pesticides and fertilizers on crops, gardens, lawns and forests. These chemicals can spread across a large area through a maze of ditches, streams and rivers.

What is the problem with pollution?

The quality of water, soil and sediment making up habitats may be affected by pollution, which in turn may cause the illness or death of plants and animals. Plants and animals also may be directly affected by pollution through contaminated nutrients and food that they need to grow and live.

Of the thousands of environmental contaminants found in the Georgia Basin, some are persistent while others are non- persistent. Persistent environmental contaminants may pose a threat to long-lived animals at the top of the food chain because they do not break down. Through a process called biomagnification, these persistent environmental contaminants build up or become more concentrated as they move up the food chain thus they may have a greater affect on animals that feed near the top of the food chain. Non-persistent chemicals are more popular today because they break down and tend to be less toxic or harmful.