Classroom Activities
Poisoned Waters: The Startling New Contaminants

More than three decades after the Clean Water Act, iconic American waterways like the Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound are in perilous condition and facing new sources of contamination. Watch the video chapter from Poisoned Waters and discuss.


Video Segment Themes

  • New chemicals from everyday products have been detected in drinking water sources.

  • Testing of treated has shows chemicals are present in “finished” water that is delivered to the tap.

  • Scientists believe these chemicals – referred to as “endocrine disruptors” – has caused genetic mutations in fish.

  • There also aren’t any established safety standards to regulate these chemicals.

Discussion Questions

Poisoned Waters explores how scientists are finding genetically mutated marine life caused by “endrocrine disruptors”—chemicals from consumer products, pharmaceuticals. After watching the video, discuss your answers to the following questions:

  • Where does waste from our toilets and sink wind up? What about chemicals that we use to clean our homes, wash our cars, fertilize our lawns? What happens to our makeup, deodorant, shampoos and other personal care items when we take a shower? What about pharmaceuticals tossed in the toilet?

  • Where does your drinking water come from? Can you think of anything that might pollute that source of water?

  • What problems have scientists detected in nature that they believe are caused by “emerging contaminants”? Are humans potentially vulnerable to some of these same chemicals?

  • What should the government and/or industry do about these emerging contaminants? What can you do to make water safer for yourself, your community and the fish?

Go Further

Featured Lesson Plan: “What Can Students Do?: Raising Environmental Awareness”

Web-exclusive Resources: What’s Safe to Eat and Drink?

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