Effects of Thermal Pollution

There are so many types of pollution and thermal pollution is a secondary problem for our waters. Water pollution occurs when chemicals and toxins are released into our waterways and the result is extremely detrimental to the organisms that call the water their home. However, thermal pollution is just as deadly and notice needs to be taken.

Thermal Pollution


Thermal Pollution Occuring Due To Large Quantities Of Heated Water Entering Rivers

Thermal Theory

Thermal pollution is best described as a temperature change within a body of water caused by human influences. This temperature change can be upwards or downwards.

Heating Things Up

In the Northern Hemisphere, thermal pollution is normally caused by using the water as a coolant for things like power plants and then the water is returned to its source at a much higher temperature. De-vegetation is another cause, which is when the natural cooling contributors, like trees, are removed from the area; thus removing a source of shade. The effects of this include:

  • Decreasing the oxygen supply Fish and other organisms need oxygen to breath, so decreasing their supply can only lead to one thing; death.
  • The ecosystem is affected- certain plants, which are food sources, will be depleted. Others that are not normally found in that area may grow at rapid rates taking needed oxygen from the existing plants and organisms.
  • Fish juveniles are vulnerable to small fluctuations in temperature so they will die, thus threatening future populations.
  • Competition for food Normal warm water organisms move into the area because of the recent increase in temperature and fight for the limited food sources.

Cooling Things Down

In the Southern Hemisphere, this type of pollution is caused by the release of very cold water from the base of reservoirs. The result of this action can cause things like:

  • Severe affects on fish, their eggs and larvae
  • Productivity of large invertebrates
  • River life productivity

In some cases, certain flora and fauna life have become extinct due to this form of thermal pollution.

A Few Things That Can Be Done

There are some things that are not in anyone’s control, but others are and these are the ones to focus on. If each place of business that practices the cooling process were to instill a few of these practices then the problem would be greatly reduced. A few helpful suggestions would include:

  • Efficiency Certain machinery and engines could be adapted to run more efficient so the need of cooling down, as much, would be eliminated.
  • Tanks Cooling tanks or pods could be installed. These would allow the warmer water to sit so evaporation could naturally cool the water down before it is released back to nature.
  • Depletion Deforestation and other invasions on the waterway banks should be eliminated so that Mother Nature can do her job of cooling the water down.

Thermal pollution should not be taken lightly. There are irreversible damages done on a daily basis and the causes can be eliminated. We need to stop and think about what our actions are doing to our precious elements.