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Pollution Prevention and Treatment for Toxicity Control

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Michigan Environmental Education Curriculum
Water Quality - Pollutant Sources and Impacts

Green Engineering Text

Treatment technologies for the removal of toxic substances from water are available at both drinking water and wastewater facilities. Toxic metals are typically removed by precipitation: a chemical is added to the waste, forming a solid with the metal. That solid then settles to the bottom of a tank where it can be collected for safe disposal. Adsorption using activated carbon is an efficient technology for removing toxic organic chemicals from water. The carbon particles act like a sponge, drawing the chemicals from the water for later collection and ultimate disposal.

The best idea, however, is to not make the problem in the first place. Green engineering is an approach where pollution-generating activities are re-designed to reduce the amount of pollutants entering the waste stream and to be more efficient in the use of energy, water and raw materials. Pollution prevention activities incorporate reusing, reducing, and recycling waste materials for some beneficial purpose. Green engineering and pollution prevention are part of a process which should reduce the number of pollution problems to clean up. They are part of a larger effort toward sustainable development where we seek to meet "the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

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