Thermal Pollution

Thermal Pollution

Thermal pollution is the heat which is added to various bodies of water which lowers water quality and changes water temperatures over longer periods of time.

Causes of thermal pollution include:

  • Power Plants
thermal pollution
Image by David Wilson

Power plants will commonly use water for temperature regulation. When the plants use water for cooling, the water becomes warmer and is reintroduced into the environment at a higher temperature than before.

  • Storms

Whenever it storms a lot of rainwater, especially in cities, the water absorbs heat easily and then gets drained out and back into nature at a higher temperature, thus harming wildlife.

Why is thermal pollution bad?

Thermal pollution is bad because even a slight change in water temperature or quality can severely impact fish and other underwater organisms. Oxygen levels in the water are greatly affected by altered temperatures which sets off a chain reaction in the ecology of the wildlife present in affected locations, essentially impacting every living organism in the water.

Thermal Pollution Facts

  • Electric power plants account for 75-80% of thermal pollution in the USA
  • Small changes in water temperature can lead to disturbances in wildlife
  • Source(s):
    Laws, Edward A. Aquatic Pollution: An Introductory Text. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2000. Print.