Introduction to Environmental Science

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Previous Lessons
Open Chapter Ch. 1: Science and the Environment
Lesson #1 The State of the Planet
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Lesson #2 Environmental Science and the Environmental Movement
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Lesson #3 3 Unifying Themes - Sustainability, Sound Science and Stewardship
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Lesson #4 Moving Towards a Sustainable Future
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Open Chapter Ch. 2: Economics, Politics, and Public Policy
Lesson #5 Economics and the Environment
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Lesson #6 Resources in a Sustainable Economy
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Lesson #7 Environmental Public Policy
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Lesson #8 Benefit-Cost Analysis of Environmental Public Policy
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Lesson #9 Politics and the Environment
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Open Chapter Ch. 3: Basic Needs of Living Things
Lesson #10 Organisms in Their Environment
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Lesson #11 Environmental Factors
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Lesson #12 Matter in Living and Nonliving Systems
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Lesson #13 Matter and Energy
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Lesson #14 The Cycling of Matter in Ecosystems
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Open Chapter Ch. 4: Populations and Communities
Lesson #15 Dynamics of Natural Populations
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Lesson #16 Limits on Population
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Lesson #17 Community Interactions
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Lesson #18 Evolution as a Force for Change
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Lesson #19 Implications for Human Management
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Open Chapter Ch. 5: Ecosystems: Energy, Patterns, and Disturbance
Lesson #20 Characteristics of Ecosystems
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Lesson #21 The Flow of Energy in Ecosystems
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Lesson #22 From Ecosystems to Global Biomes
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Lesson #23 Ecosystem Responses to Disturbance
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Lesson #24 Human Values and Ecosystem Sustainability
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Open Chapter Ch. 6: Wild Species and Biodiversity
Lesson #25 The Value of Wild Species and Biodiversity
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Lesson #26 Biodiversity and Its Decline
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Lesson #27 Saving Wild Species
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Lesson #28 Protecting Biodiversity Internationally
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Exam Exam 1
Open Chapter Ch. 7: The Value, Use, and Restoration of Ecosystems
Lesson #29 Ecosystem Capital
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Lesson #30 Consumption and Production
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Lesson #31 Biomes and Ecosystems Under Pressure
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Lesson #32 Protection and Restoration
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Open Chapter Ch. 8: The Human Population
Lesson #33 The Human Population
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Lesson #34 Population and Consumption: Different Worlds
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Lesson #35 Consequences of Population Growth and Affluence
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Lesson #36 Projecting Future Populations
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Open Chapter Ch. 9: Population and Development
Lesson #37 Predicting the Demographic Transition
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Lesson #38 Promoting Development
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Lesson #39 A New Direction: Social Modernization
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Open Chapter Ch. 10: Water: Hydrologic Cycle and Human Use
Lesson #40 Water: A Vital Resource
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Lesson #41 Hydrologic Cycle: Natural Cycle, Human Impacts
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Lesson #42 Water: Getting Enough, Controlling Excess
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Lesson #43 Water Stewardship: Supply and Public Policy
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Open Chapter Ch. 11: Soil: The Foundation for Land Ecosystems
Lesson #44 Soil and Plants
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Lesson #45 Soil Degradation
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Lesson #46 Soil Conservation
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Open Chapter Ch. 12: The Production and Distribution of Food
Lesson #47 Crops and Animals: Major Patterns of Food Production
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Lesson #48 From Green Revolution to Gene Revolution
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Lesson #49 Food Distribution and Trade
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Lesson #50 Hunger, Malnutrition, and Famine
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Lesson #51 The Future: Feeding the World as We Approach 2030-2050
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Exam Midterm Exam
Open Chapter Ch. 13: Pests and Pest Control
Lesson #52 The Need for Pest Control
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Lesson #53 Chemical Treatment: Promises and Problems
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Lesson #54 Alternative Pest Control Methods
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Lesson #55 Making a Coherent Plan
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Lesson #56 Pests, Pesticides, and Policy
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Open Chapter Ch. 14: Energy from Fossil Fuels
Lesson #57 Energy from Fossil Fuels
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Lesson #58 Exploiting Crude Oil
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Lesson #59 Drilling for Natural Gas
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Lesson #60 Mining Coal
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Lesson #61 Energy Policy
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Open Chapter Ch. 15: Nuclear Power
Lesson #62 Nuclear Energy in Perspective
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Lesson #63 How Nuclear Power Works
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Lesson #64 The Hazards and Costs of Nuclear Power Facilities
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Lesson #65 More Advanced Reactors
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Lesson #66 The Future of Nuclear Power
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Open Chapter Ch. 16: Renewable Energy
Lesson #67 Strategic Issues
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Lesson #68 Putting Solar Energy to Work
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Lesson #69 Indirect Solar Energy
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Lesson #70 Renewable Energy for Transportation
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Lesson #71 Additional Renewable Energy Options
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Lesson #72 Policies for Renewable Energy
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Open Chapter Ch. 17: Environmental Hazards and Human Health
Lesson #73 Links Between Human Health and the Environment
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Lesson #74 Pathways of Risk
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Lesson #75 Risk Assessment
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Open Chapter Ch. 18: Global Climate Change
Lesson #76 Atmosphere, Weather, and Climate
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Lesson #77 Climate Change Science
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Lesson #78 Response to Climate Change
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Exam Exam 3
Open Chapter Ch. 19: Atmospheric Pollution
Lesson #79 Air Pollution Essentials
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Lesson #80 Major Air Pollutants and Their Sources
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Lesson #81 Impacts of Air Pollutants
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Lesson #82 Bringing Air Pollution Under Control
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Lesson #83 Destruction of the Ozone Layer
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Open Chapter Ch. 20: Water Pollution and Its Prevention
Lesson #84 Perspectives on Water Pollution
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Lesson #85 Wastewater Treatment and Management
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Lesson #86 Eutrophication
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Lesson #87 Public Policy and Water Pollution
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Open Chapter Ch. 21: Municipal Solid Waste: Disposal and Recovery
Lesson #88 Solid Waste: Landfills and Combustion
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Lesson #89 Better Solutions: Source Reduction and Recycling
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Lesson #90 Public Policy and Waste Management
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Open Chapter Ch. 22: Hazardous Chemicals: Pollution and Prevention
Lesson #91 Toxicology and Chemical Hazards
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Lesson #92 Hazardous Waste Disposal
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Lesson #93 Cleaning Up the Mess
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Lesson #94 Managing Current Toxic Chemicals and Waste
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Lesson #95 Hazardous Chemicals: Pollution and Prevention
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Open Chapter Ch. 23: Sustainable Communities and Lifestyles
Lesson #96 Urban Sprawl
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Lesson #97 Urban Blight
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Lesson #98 Moving Towards Sustainable Cities and Communities
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Lesson #99 Lifestyles and the Common Good
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Exam Final Exam

Assignments:

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Lesson Objectives:

- Dead zones and eutrophication
- Clean Water Act
- Sanitation
- Water pollutants
- Water quality standards



A dead zone is an area lacking oxygen. All oxygen-breathing animals cannot survive in such an area. The impact of nitrogen flowing into the Gulf of Mexico in 1974 created a dead zone. Dead zones can occur in the water or on land. This issue got national attention since the gulf fishery accounts for $2.8 billion annually in commerce.

Nitrogen promoted the growth of phytoplankton and harmful algae blooms. Nitrogen had leached into the water from agricultural run off.

Eutrophication is the process of enrichment by nutrients. Vital water resources like in the Gulf of Mexico example, cannot receive pollutants like nitrogen and be expected to continue to deliver the same bounty of goods and services.



After the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, OH caught fire in 1969 because of industrial pollution, people were outraged and public debate ensued. This led to the passage of the Clean Water Act of 1972 (CWA) to restore and maintain national waters.

The EPA is in charge of administering the CWA. The CWA has been far reaching and effective legislation.

There are two sources of water pollution- point and non-point. Point sources include run-off from factories, sewage systems, oil and coal use. This can be identified and traced easily.

Non-point sources occur from city streets, suburbs and animal feedlots. These sources are less easy to identify and see immediately.



Pathogens are disease-causing bacteria, virus and parasites. Pathogens enter water through contamination. They can infect human beings through contaminated food, water and exposure to fecal waste.

Sanitation is essential for health. Public health efforts to improve sanitation include the purification of water, collection of human and animal waste, maintenance of sanitary standards and education in hygiene practices. Sanitation is good medicine and considered more important than modern medicine in controlling waterborne diseases.

In 2012, 780 million people did not have safe drinking water and 2.8 billion people lived in areas without good sewage collection or treatment.



Human and animal organic wastes can cause serious problems if they enter the water untreated. This can be a huge problem if not addressed and leads to poor hygiene and sickness.

Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) measures how much organic material is in the water. The higher the BOD, the greater the likelihood that oxygen will be depleted while breaking down organic matter.

Chemical pollutants linger in the water. They include petroleum products, heavy metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic, acids, and road salts. When acidic water from mines containing sulfides and iron enter natural water streams, they turn them orange and brown and render them sterile, killing off all natural life.



The EPA formulated a list of criteria pollutants. These are 167 chemicals listed by the EPA that are toxic. Lower levels of some these pollutants are considered acceptable.

In 1974, the EPA established Drinking Water Standards and listed 94 contaminants that could not be allowed in the water.

Two other water quality criteria in use are the NPDES and TMDL. The National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) addresses point-source pollution and issues permits that regulates discharges from industrial power plants. The Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program evaluates all pollutants entering the water.