What is thermal pollution? How does it happen?



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    Thermal pollution is heat pollution, and is term usually used when talking about waterways. When human activities increase the temperature of a lake, stream, or other body of water, it may make survival more difficult for aquatic species adapted to cooler temperatures. Alterations in the landscape may cause thermal pollution; for instance, logging and clearing vegetation along the edges of a stream means the water receives more direct sunlight, and grows warmer. Thermal pollution can also occur when water is removed from a lake or stream, is heated up, and then is returned to the main body of water. Many manufacturing and power industries rely on a water to cool very hot metal equipment; in fact, one half on all water consumed in the US is used for cooling purposes by these industries. Though using water for cooling does not necessarily contaminate it with more traditional chemical pollutants, cooling water returned to a lake or stream will be much warmer, and this often has a negative affect on aquatic wildlife.

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