This chapter focuses on a broad range of lesser known and recent pollutants that affect aquatic organisms. These chemicals, found in groundwater and surface water, include many human-synthesized agricultural chemicals, flame retardants, pharmaceuticals, pathogens, swimming pool chemicals, and various consumer products. This chapter also describes how wastewater treatment plants eliminate some pharmaceuticals, but their processes allow others to pass through relatively undiminished. Ecosystem effects are also considered. For example, filter-feeding oysters take up PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) which destabilize their lysosomal membranes. Mussels, seabirds, and marine mammals all take up flame retardants, and amphibians take up dry cleaning solvents. Birds also take up these pollutants, including flame retardants, with measurable effects on their health. However, human and animal pharmaceuticals, though widespread environmentally, generally appear to not be at high enough concentrations to cause extreme ecological problems. This chapter also considers soil and water acidity, which produces a range of effects in surface waters. Increasing acidity mobilizes aluminum in soils, which leaches to surface waters where it's toxic to organisms, and where acidity, as well as the loss of buffering against acidity changes, directly harms many organisms.
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