Phosphates In Water Pollution Essay

727 words - 3 pages

Chemistry: Water PollutionPhosphates in Water PollutionPhosphates may be created by substituting some or all of thehydrogen of a phosphoric acid by metals. Depending on the number ofhydrogen atoms that are replaced, the resulting compound is described asa primary, secondary or tertiary phosphate. Primary and secondaryphosphates contain hydrogen and are acid salts. Secondary and tertiaryphosphates, with the exception of those of sodium, potassium andammonium are insoluble in water. Tertiary sodium phosphate is valuableas a detergent and water softener. The primary phosphates tend to bemore soluble.Phosphates, which are an important component to metabolism inboth plants and animals, help in the first step in oxidation of glucosein the body. Primary calcium phosphate is an ingredient of plantfertilizer.Phosphates have caused increasing attention recently. The focusis on the environmentally harmful effects in household detergents.Wastewater, from laundering agents, contains phosphates, which are saidto be a water pollutant.Most laundry detergents contain approximately 35% to 75% sodiumtriphosphate (Na5P3O10), which serves two purposes. Providing analkaline solution (pH 9.0 to 10.5) is necessary for effective cleansingand also to tie up calcium and magnesium ions found in natural watersand prevent them from interfering with the cleansing role of thedetergent.Eutrophication is the progressive over-fertilization of water,in which festering masses of algae's blooms, choking rivers and lakes.Phosphorus compounds act as a fertilizer for all plant life, whetherfree-floating algae or more substantial rooted weeds, and are implicatedin eutrophication. Many countries control phosphate levels, whereasSwitzerland has banned the use of phosphates.The marine environment is both fragile and more resistant thanthe terrestrial ecosystem. It is fragile for the reasons that nutrientsare generally present in very low concentrations, permanently consumedby living organisms and pollutants diffuse rapidly.Lakes and rivers are extremely complex ecosystems. Nutrients aretaken up by both algae and rooted weeds. The weeds act as a shelter forfish larvae and zooplankton, both of which eat algae and are, in turn,eaten by larger fish. Scientists have concluded that unpolluted lakescan absorb surprisingly large amounts of phosphates without uncertainty.When a fertilizer, such as a phosphate, is added more algae will grow,and consequently will the populations of zooplankton and fish.Difficulties only arise when the lake is already impure. Zooplankton aresensitive to...

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