The Social and Environmental Impacts of Pathogens as Biological Pollution |
The term water pollution can be understood in several forms; chemical, physical and biological all of which can cause serious impact on ecosystem health. These can be seen in the release of toxic chemicals from industry, nutrient run off from agriculture, thermal pollution from power plants and industrial manufacturers and biological pollution in the form of disease causing microorganisms. Biological pollution as an increasing problem with an ever expanding human population putting extreme pressure on ecosystems and natural resources. This increased population density, particularly in urban centres, is driving the proliferation of disease causing microorganisms (pathogens) resulting in a substantial escalation of emergent diseases seen in human and animal populations in recent decades (Peeler & Feist, 2011). Freshwater ecosystems are of particular concern with water being a vital resource for the survival of organisms. Human interference has played a major role in the introduction and distribution of pathogens into this environment, with the greatest source of biological pollution discharged into waterways being sewage effluent (Mason, 2002). Contamination via faecal matter will introduce a variety of microorganisms to a waterway that is harmful to human and animal health including viruses, parasitic worms, protozoa and bacteria. Moreover, human movement of disease carrying organisms has shown to alter natural disease dynamics within an ecosystem (Okamura & Feist, 2011) impacting on biodiversity, population size and potentially causing economics losses. As a result, large scale management strategies are necessary to monitor and maintain water quality standards so that we may continue to use this resource as an essential component of life.
Although pathogens are a normal component of an ecosystem, human activity has in large part been responsible for the...