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Toxic levels of cyanobacteria

Policies and proclamations

In Ethiopia there are several policies, strategies, proclamations and regulations that apply to different aspects of pollution prevention and control. These include the Environmental Policy of Ethiopia (1997) which promotes the use of renewable resources and recycling, and includes specific policies for industrial waste among other environmental sectors. The Prevention of Industrial Pollution Regulation (2008) requires any establishment, institution or factory to obtain a permit to discharge its waste into the nearby environment. The Solid Waste Management Proclamation (2007) sets out the responsibilities of urban administrations to provide solid waste management services. These and other national policies are described in Study Session 15.

Summary of Study Session 8

In Study Session 8, you have learned that:

  1. Biodegradation of organic matter removes oxygen from the water and can lead to deoxygenation with consequent harm to fish and other aquatic life.
  2. High nutrient levels in water is called eutrophication. This process causes increasing density of algae and other plants which can reduce penetration of light into the water and cause deoxygenation when the plants die and decay.
  3. Bioaccumulation is the gradual build-up of chemicals in the bodies of living organisms. Increasing accumulation through the levels of a food chain is called biomagnification. Eating food such as fish containing bioaccumulated chemicals will damage human health.
  4. Humans are exposed to pollutants by ingestion with water and food, inhalation through breathing and absorption through the skin.
  5. Pollution prevention means avoiding or minimising the production of wastes before they are released into the environment. Pollution control involves measures to limit the damage caused by pollutants.
  6. Pollution control is supported by principles such as the polluter pays principle, the precautionary principle and the principle of duty of care, and by relevant legislation and policies.

Self-Assessment Questions (SAQs) for Study Session 8

Now that you have completed this study session, you can assess how well you have achieved its Learning Outcomes by answering the following questions.

(tests Learning Outcome 8.1)

Define the words biodegradation, bioaccumulation and biomagnification, and explain the difference between them.Reveal answer

(tests Learning Outcomes 8.1 and 8.2)

Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are useful to farmers who apply them to fields to help increase growth of their crops. Write a paragraph that explains how these same nutrients cause pollution when they are washed off into rivers and lakes. Your answer must include the following words: algal bloom; deoxygenation; eutrophic; fish; organic matter.Reveal answer

(tests Learning Outcome 8.3)

Give three examples of air pollutants, three examples of sources of air pollution and three possible effects of air pollution on human health.Reveal answer

(tests Learning Outcomes 8.1 and 8.4)

  • a.Complete all the gaps in the table below.
Water pollutantExposure routeHuman health effect
Vibrio cholerae bacteria
organic mercuryingestion
  • b.Which of the diseases in your completed table are transmitted by faecal-oral transmission?

Reveal answer

(tests Learning Outcomes 8.1 and 8.5)

A junior manager in a manufacturing company is asked to write a report to the Chief Executive with recommendations for reducing the environmental impact of their factory. Rewrite this extract from the report using terms from the list provided to fill the gaps:

cleaner production; pollution prevention; precautionary principle; polluter pays principle; recycling; reduce; reuse; waste hierarchy; waste minimisation.

Our company has a duty to reduce pollution from the wastes produced in our factory. We should adopt policies of ………………, which avoid pollution in the first place. I recommend that we follow the ……………… and do not assume that our wastes will not cause any environmental damage. We should adopt ……………… processes to ensure we reduce our impact on the environment.

For management of the solid wastes produced in our factory we should follow the ……………… This means we should first ……………… the amount of waste produced and identify opportunities for ……………… and ……………… If we successfully adopt these ……………… procedures we will reduce potential pollution from our company. Although some costs may be incurred, this could save money in the long run because under the ……………… we may be liable for costs of any environmental damage that we cause.