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close this bookCentral Eurasian Water Crisis: Caspian, Aral, and Dead Seas (UNU, 1998, 203 pages)
close this folderPart I: introduction
close this folder3. Major environmental problems in world lakes
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentDeclining water levels
View the documentRapid siltation
View the documentAcidification
View the documentThe progress of eutrophication
View the documentContamination with man-made toxics
View the documentThe collapse of aquatic ecosystems
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentReferences

Contamination with man-made toxics

The post-war epoch of environmental pollution started almost 40 years ago with a series of heavy metal contamination events in coastal and inland waters of Japan and some other countries. The situation has not yet been improved very much. The development of monitoring and warning systems for toxic contamination may prevent the recurrence of such tragedies as Minamata disease (caused by mercury poisoning) in industrialized countries, but many water bodies, including lakes and reservoirs, still remain dangerously contaminated. The kinds of identified toxins have significantly increased, including various kinds of mutagens and carcinogens whose risks have to be managed in a different way from those of heavy metals, agro-chemicals, etc.

There are also indications that contamination is spreading to less developed parts of the world, keeping pace with the advance of industrialization and urbanization. During ILEC's survey of world lake environments, however, it was recognized that information on toxic contamination of lakes in less developed countries, especially reliable numerical data, was disappointingly scarce. Here is one of the most urgent needs for international cooperation.