Effects of atmospheric deposition of energy-related pollutants on water quality: a review and assessment
Description: The effects on surface-water quality of atmospheric pollutants that are generated during energy production are reviewed and evaluated. Atmospheric inputs from such sources to the aquatic environment may include trace elements, organic compounds, radionuclides, and acids. Combustion is the largest energy-related source of trace-element emissions to the atmosphere. This report reviews the nature of these emissions from coal-fired power plants and discusses their terrestrial and aquatic effects following deposition. Several simple models for lakes and streams are developed and are applied to assess the potential for adverse effects on surface-water quality of trace-element emissions from coal combustion. The probability of acute impacts on the aquatic environment appears to be low; however, more subtle, chronic effects are possible. The character of acid precipitation is reviewed, with emphasis on aquatic effects, and the nature of existing or potential effects on water quality, aquatic biota, and water supply is considered. The response of the aquatic environment to acid precipitation depends on the type of soils and bedrock in a watershed and the chemical characteristics of the water bodies in question. Methods for identifying regions sensitive to acid inputs are reviewed. The observed impact of acid precipitation ranges from no effects to elimination of fish populations. Coal-fired power plants and various stages of the nuclear fuel cycle release radionuclides to the atmosphere. Radioactive releases to the atmosphere from these sources and the possible aquatic effects of such releases are examined. For the nuclear fuel cycle, the major releases are from reactors and reprocessing. Although aquatic effects of atmospheric releases have not been fully quantified, there seems little reason for concern for man or aquatic biota.
Date: May 1, 1981
Creator: Davis, M.J.
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