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Michigan Environmental Education Curriculum
Water Quality - Pollutant Sources and Impacts

Acute

Having a rapid onset and short, but severe, course.

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Adsorption

The accumulation of chemicals on a solid surface.

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Amalgam

A combination of metals; in fillings, silver and mercury.

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Antibiotic

A substance that can destroy or inhibit the growth of microorganisms.

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Bacteria

Types of single-celled microorganisms without a nucleus.

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Bioaccumulation

The buildup of a substance in a living organism.

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Bonds

Forces holding atoms together in a molecule.

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Byproduct

Something produced in the making of something else.

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Chronic

Developing over a long period of time.

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Clarity

Clearness of appearance.

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Colonies

Groups of single-celled organisms living together.

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Conservation tillage

Growing crops with very little disturbance of the soil surface.

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Contaminant

Something that contaminates.

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Contaminate

To make impure; unfit for a particular use.

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Corrosion

Rusting.

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Cyst

The dormant or resting stage of a microorganism.

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Decompose

To rot; break down into simpler components.

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Diarrhea

Excessive and frequent passing of water fecal material.

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Diffuse (pollution)

Widely spread or scattered.

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Disinfect

Cleanse to kill (especially disease-causing) microorganisms.

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Disinfectant

A substance that disinfects.

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Dysentary

Disease of the intestine resulting in pain and diarrhea caused by bacteria and protozoa.

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Effluent

Flowing out from.

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Elemental

Relating to the basic element as identified in the Periodic Chart.

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Encysted

Forming a cyst.

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Epidemic

A rapid and extensive outbreak of an infectious disease.

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Epidemiologists

Those working in the branch of medicine that deals with the study of the causes, distribution, and control of disease.

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Eutrophication

Process of enrichment in inorganic and organic nutrients that promote the growth of plant life.

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Exposure

Being put in the presence of a material or influence.

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Fecal

Relating to the waste matter eliminated from the bowels; excrement.

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Fertilization

The act of applying chemicals which will enhance plant growth.

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Gastroenteritis

A disease in which the membranes of the intestine and stomach are inflamed.

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Indicator organisms

Non-pathogenic microorganisms which point to the presence of pathogens.

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Inorganic

Involving neither organic life nor the products of organic life.

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Intestinal

Portion of the body, beyond the stomach, dealing with food digestion.

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Leaching

Removing soluble constituents by exposure to water or other liquids.

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Methylmercury

Any of various toxic forms of mercury containing the methyl (CH3) group.

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Metric ton

1,000 kilograms = 1,000,000 grams

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Microbiological

Relating to that branch of biology dealing with microorganisms.

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Microbes

Minute life forms; also microorganisms.

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Microorganisms

An organism or microscopic or submicroscopic size.

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Municipal

Relating to a political unit, such as a city, town or village.

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Mutation

A change in genetic structure leading to a new trait.

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Organic

Derived from living organisms.

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Organism

An individual form of life.

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Pathogen

A disease-causing organism.

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Persistent

Existing for an indefinitely long time.

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Photosynthesis

Production of carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water using light as an energy source; oxygen is typically a by-product.

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Phytoplankton

Free-floating, microscopic plants.

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Precipitation (chemistry)

Process in which a solid is separated from a liquid.

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Precipitation (hydrology)

Moisture deposited on the Earth as dew, rain or snow.

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Protozoa

Types of single-celled microorganisms with a nucleus.

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Reservoirs (chemistry)

Reserves or supplies of a chemical in the environment.

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Residual

Remaining; left over.

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Respiration

Release of energy from organic matter with the consumption of oxygen and production of carbon dioxide.

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Secchi Disk

A weighted white or black and white disk, lowered into the water until it is no longer seen; provides a measure of transparency.

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Smelting

Melting ores to separate metallic constituents.

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Stimulating

Increasing activity.

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Surface waters

Lakes and ponds, streams and rivers.

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Symptom

A sign or indication of something else; especially of a disease.

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Synthetic

Produced artificially; not of natural origin.

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Toxic

Capable of causing injury or death, especially by chemical means. A toxin, or toxicant, is a poison or poisonous agent.

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Transmit

To send or carry from one person to another.

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Transparency

Ability to transmit light; clarity.

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Turbid

Rich in particles; cloudy, muddy.

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Vaccine

A weakened version of a pathogen which gives protection against that pathogen.

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Viruses

Simple submicroscopic parasites of plants, animals, and bacteria that often cause disease.

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Waterborne

Transmitted or carried in water.

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Watershed

The region draining into a river or other body of water.

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Zooplankton

Free-floating, (largely) microscopic animals.

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