The Solution to Pollution is NOT Dilution

Whoever coined the ORIGINAL saying was seriously mistaken. 

Pollution is not only trash on the ground; it can take many forms such as chemical, air, noise, light, or water pollution. Pollution is a contaminant or something foreign that can cause dramatic changes to a natural environment. 

So when I first heard this saying, I felt the need to say something!

Obviously, pollution is a broad topic and it would take pages and pages, and blogs and blogs to cover this so I’m going to stick to what I am most familiar with: water pollution.

About 70 percent of Earth is covered in ocean and that’s not including lakes, ponds, rivers, and smaller bodies of water. However as the human population increases, the production of waste increases. So where does all that waste go? Sometimes it ends up in these lakes, rivers, and oceans and then contaminates our water. 

Water pollution is not just trash in the ocean; it can take multiple forms. Trash pollution, nutrient pollution, and oil spills are the three most prominent. 

Nutrient Pollution Sometimes when you boat around a body of water, you’ll see nice houses and with nice, lush lawns. A pristine, green lawn is a big warning sign. What does it take to have a picturesque lawn? An overload of fertilizer. Fertilizers contain nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus; however when too much is added, all the remaining fertilizer washes into the water, especially during rain events. The high nutrients can promote excessive algae growth, depleting the oxygen in the water. Because of this, animals that breathe underwater could “choke” due to lack of oxygen.

Trash Pollution When people visit the beach, beachgoers tend to bring a lot of things.  Sometimes people forget leftover wrappers, plastic bags, and cigarette butts. As the water level rises with the tides, those items can get end up in the water as trash. In most cases, this trash cannot dissolve in water. This infographic shows how long it takes for trash to disintegrate in the water. 

Credit to NOAA and Woods Hole Sea Grant. Graphics by Oliver Lude

Credit to NOAA and Woods Hole Sea Grant. Graphics by Oliver Lude

Credit to Minnesota DNR. Click here to learn more about Peanut the turtle and her story!

Credit to Minnesota DNR. Click here to learn more about Peanut the turtle and her story!



It’s unpleasant to see and mars the landscape. Moreover, suspended trash can harm and kill aquatic life.



 Oil Spills Have you ever put one single drop of oil in a bowl of water? It spreads and it gives the illusion of more oil than is actual present. Now imagine that in our lakes and oceans. One drop of oil can spread for miles; an oil spill can spread for hundreds of miles. If ingested, it can choke sea animals. If it sticks to the feathers of seabirds, it can cause them to lose the ability to fly. It is hard to isolate oil and contain a spill. Sometimes oil can be hazardous; crude oil in high concentrations, can poison animals and humans.

All animals need water to live and so these threats can be fatal. 

So, how can we resolve these problems?

One might think because the ocean seems endless, it doesn’t matter how much you dump into it. It’s easy to suspect that it will be diluted and magically disappear…



The ocean is not infinite. If you dump anything into the ocean (trash or chemicals), it will end up somewhere. As a matter of fact, there is a place called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch: a place where plastics, chemical sludge, and other debris have been carried by strong currents and now exist in massive amounts. Some say it is estimated to be twice the size of the United States, but more observations and studies need to be conducted.  But you can see this “landmass” of trash from space.

Credit to the Milky Way Broadcast

Credit to the Milky Way Broadcast

See that swirly mass? That's trash. 

While doing a bit research on this, there are certainly solutions to pollution (in this case water pollution), just not through dilution.

> Always look for the correct waste bin when throwing out rubbish. If there are no waste bins at your location, take it with you and find the correct bin. 

>Reduce the amount of water you use. A significant reduction of running water can prevent water shortages and reduces the amount of dirty water that needs treatment.

>Do not throw chemicals, oils, paints, and medicines down the sink drain or the toilet.

> Buy more environmentally-safe cleaning liquids for your home and other public places.

> If you use chemicals and pesticides for your gardens and farms, be mindful not to overuse pesticides and fertilizers. This will reduce runoff into nearby water sources. If you live close to a body of water, try to plant lots of trees and flowers around your home. This will help prevent chemicals from your home from draining into the water.

>Be aware and learn. There are lots of organizations and groups that help educate people on the dangers of water pollution. It is great to join these groups because they regularly encourage members of their communities to have a better attitude towards water. 

Although it may sound fun to say, dilution is not the way to go. The best answer is knowledge. Learning more about water dynamics, how certain factors affect the water chemistry, and how it affects living animals both in and out of the water is vitally important. We all have to do our part to keep our waters pristine and clean.  

Finally Im going to leave you with this picture that really says a lot without any words. 

 "What Lies Under" by Ferdi Rizkiyanto, 2011

 "What Lies Under" by Ferdi Rizkiyanto, 2011

(Check out my other blog post on a lesser known form of pollution: light pollution)