Tuesday, August 14, 2007


What are they and what do they do?
There are 117 major rivers in Malaysia but they're becoming more and more polluted.
There are different types of pollution: mainly chemical and organic and both can cause untold and permanent damage to rivers and the environment. And to humans.
DID YOU KNOW…the everyday batteries you use in your torch or radio can pollute the environment forever? They contain highly toxic mercury and lead, which can cause serious nerve damage in humans.

What causes water pollution?
1. Agriculture
2. Manufacturing industries
3. Animal husbandry
4. You and me
5. Land clearing

Pollutants and their source
• Chemical pesticides, fertilisers - animal and agricultural farms, plantations, industries especially illegal ones, our own garden
• Chemical by-products from manufacturing processes - factories
• Animal (including human) waste and faeces - animal farms, squatter houses
• Your chemical detergents, garden pesticides and fertilisers, batteries and plastics, sewage - homes and everyday human activity
[diagram of runner in race crossing the finishing line - on his t-shirt says 'noxious organic waste' - background, ppl in stadium cheering, no.2 'toxic chemical waste']
The number one pollutant in Malaysia is ORGANIC waste from sewage, animal waste and excessive soil deposits. Animal waste from farms, in particular, can cause diseases such as cholera, typhoid, hepatitis A all of which are potential killers.
Industries and agriculture come a close second, with toxic chemical by-products being dumped into our rivers and pesticides running into the river. Metals like lead (from batteries paint and petrol) and mercury (from batteries, plastics) can cause untold damage to nerves and brain function.

Drains from our kitchens and bathrooms (apart from the toilet) run straight into our rivers, without being treated.
Whatever you pour down the sink or throw into the drain ends up in our rivers.
Be careful what you do.

How does water pollution affect me?

1. Organic waste
Organic - human and animal - waste can cause disease and death. Carcasses or faeces dumped illegally into our rivers can cause cholera, typhoid and hepatitis A, which sometimes results in death.
Oxygen is used up to break down organic waste. If there is a large amount of organic waste, it can deprive river vegetation and animals of much needed oxygen. This can result in killing them, destroying river habitats and part of our food chain.

2. Chemical waste

• Cancers and tumours can develop, sometimes resulting in death
Mothers who are contaminated with toxic chemicals that are accidentally or irresponsibly released into our rivers can give birth to children with deformed reproductive organs
• Mental retardation due to very high or very low levels of thyroid
• Depression
• Infertility- Low sperm count in men- Difficulties in women to conceive and those who do, risk having abnormal babies
• Irregularities - Ectopic pregnancies (an abnormality where foetuses develop in the fallopian tube instead of the womb) - Hormonal imbalances that disrupt menstrual cycle in women

What can you do?
Don't Pollute! You may be polluting our rivers without realising it. It can happen from within our own homes. Remember, what you throw down your sink goes directly into our rivers - untreated.

1. Many household products are actually toxic. Use non-toxic substitutes where possible, e.g. low phosphate or phosphate free detergents; water-based products.
2. Dispose of household chemicals and pesticides at hazardous waste collection centres.
3. Be careful what you pour down your sink, such as cooking oil. This runs directly into rivers. Oil can destroy rivers by suffocating living plants and aquatic animals and killing micro-organisms that form an important part of the food chain and ecosystem.
4. Inspect your septic tank annually and pump it out regularly. Improperly maintained septic tanks can contaminate ground water, which eventually runs into our rivers

1. Never pour unwanted chemicals on the ground as soil can't absorb it and some will eventually run off into drains (especially after it rains). They end up directly in rivers, poisoning living things including fish. Remember, we eat fish.
2. Don't pour oils, paints and other chemicals down the drains either as this will end up directly in streams.
3. Similarly, don't use too much garden chemical fertilisers - when it rains, these chemicals can run off into the drains and directly into rivers and streams.

1. Consider using a sailing boat, rowing boat or canoe instead of a powerboat as the latter can pollute the water through petrol spills. If you do use a powerboat, make sure it's in good condition.
2. When you're camping, make sure you bury biodegradable waste at least 60 metres (200 feet) away from a water source. Use only biodegradable soaps and take all other litter away with you.

1. Don't throw litter, pet waste, even leaves into gutters and monsoon drains - they run directly into rivers, lakes, streams and can clog up rivers.
2. Don't litter in rivers.
3. Promote environmental education.
sent by Ratnasari Mohamad Ashaari

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