“Thermal pollution” is a term usually used in reference to rivers, lakes, and streams that human activities have caused to warm up to a degree that hurts native plant and animal species. Thermal pollution can occur when factories or power plants draw from nearby bodies of water to cool very hot equipment; when the water is released back into the stream or river, it injects a lot of heat into the surrounding aquatic environment. Thermal pollution may also be the result of clearing trees and other vegetation from the sides of a body of water; suddenly, water that previously shaded by tree branches is left vulnerable to the full heat of the sun. Because it does not involve tangible toxins or particulates, thermal pollution is often not granted the same importance as other pollution sources. The truth is, however, that increased water temperatures are harmful to many aquatic organisms, especially to fish belonging to the salmon and trout family.
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