Student Question

What are the sources of pollution that affect the water cycle system, causing acid rain and polluting our oceans, lakes, and rivers? 

I am trying to understand the various sources of such pollution, and also the effects this pollution has on the water cycle system as a whole.

Expert Answers

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Pollution is a broad category used to describe anything that is unnatural to the environment and/or ecosystem.  Pollution usually has many negative ramifications that cause harm to the environment.  Pollution can come from factories in the form of smokestack emissions, or it may come as liquid contaminants from drain pipes.  Pollution may come from the automobile exhausts our millions of cars put out everyday.  Pollution may come in the form of surface runoff from planted fields, carrying pesticides and fertilizers.  Pollution can contaminate groundwater from sanitary waste landfills.  Pollution can come from the second-hand smoke of cigarette smokers.  Sources we can point to are referred to as "point-source" pollutants, while sources that can not be attributed to any one source are called "nonpoint-source" pollutants.

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