In this interactive activity adapted from the National Library of Medicine, explore the environmental hazards found at various coastal locations, including beaches, coastal brownfields, cruise ships, fish farms, homes, marinas and boats, power plants, storage tanks and pipelines, and wastewater treatment facilities.
When you think of the coast, images of sun, fun, and beaches likely spring to mind. However, as is the case in most any location, there are natural health hazards present. Sun exposure can lead to skin damage and skin cancer; activities in the water may cause injuries or drowning; and contact with insects and marine life may result in bites or stings. Furthermore, natural events, such as strong storms and tsunamis, may produce flooding and damage. Mold resulting from flooding can lead to skin, eye, and respiratory problems, and debris and waste can contaminate drinking water and soil with harmful pollutants.
In addition to being popular for residential and recreational use, coastal areas are also commonly used for business and industry. These activities can produce environmental hazards as well. One example is the waste from fish farms, where fish are raised in a controlled environment. The concentrated numbers of fish create an overload of waste, which pollutes the water. In addition, to control parasites and other infections in the fish, farm operators turn to antibiotics, which are then passed on to the consumer and into the environment. Ships and marine terminals also introduce a variety of pollutants into the air and water, including chemicals from paints, engine fluids, and fuels. Chemical pollutants such as mercury, PCBs, and dioxins released into the sea or into rivers that flow into the sea can accumulate in the marine food chain, endangering people who consume the contaminated organisms. In order to protect people from potential health risks, governmental agencies monitor waters and issue fish advisories to warn about possible risks or forbid harvesting in designated areas when contaminant levels are unsafe.
Historically, locations along the coast were desirable for transportation and waste disposal because of their easy access to the open ocean. In fact, throughout much of history, the ocean was basically regarded as a giant waste bin. It was believed that the massive size and natural dispersal capacity of the ocean made it safe to treat it as a dumping zone for all sorts of unwanted materials, including industrial waste and raw sewage. It wasn't until the mid-twentieth century that many cities, such as Boston and San Diego, realized that the practice of discharging untreated sewage into the ocean was causing a pollution problem and endangering human health. Wastewater treatment facilities now process wastewater to remove contaminants before discharging the water into the ocean, and much progress has been made in mitigating pollutants. In particular, pollution control programs and federal regulations such as the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA) and the Clean Water Act help limit marine pollution.
Academic standards correlations on Teachers' Domain use the Achievement Standards Network (ASN) database of state and national standards, provided to NSDL projects courtesy of JES & Co.
We assign reference terms to each statement within a standards document and to each media resource, and correlations are based upon matches of these terms for a given grade band. If a particular standards document of interest to you is not displayed yet, it most likely has not yet been processed by ASN or by Teachers' Domain. We will be adding social studies and arts correlations over the coming year, and also will be increasing the specificity of alignment.