Water polution and Non-biodegradable organic compounds

Contaminants may include non-biodegradable organic substances. Many of these chemical substances are toxic.

  • A garbage collection boom to reduce pollution in an urban stream in Auckland, New Zealand.
  • Creosote - a chemical used for wood preservation, can be released into the ocean over time Chemicals from insecticides and herbicides.
  • Petroleum hydrocarbons, including fuels (gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuels, and fuel oil) and lubricants (motor oil), and fuel combustion byproducts, from oil spills or stormwater runoff
  • Volatile organic compounds, such as industrial solvents, from improper storage.
  • Persistent organic pollutants, for example per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), organochlorides, polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs), trichloroethylene, perchlorate (these are currently or were in the past used as pesticides, solvents, pharmaceuticals, and industrial chemicals).

The following compounds can all reach water bodies via raw sewage or even treated sewage discharges (this is because removal of these "micropollutants" is complex and costly (see also below under Control and Reduction)):

  • Various chemical compounds are found in personal hygiene and cosmetic products.
  • Environmental persistent pharmaceutical pollutants, which can include various pharmaceutical drugs and their metabolites (see also drug pollution), such as antidepressant drugs, antibiotics or the contraceptive pill.
  • Metabolites of illicit drugs (see also wastewater epidemiology), for example, methamphetamine and ecstasy.
  • Disinfection by-products are found in chemically disinfected drinking water (whilst these chemicals can be a pollutant in the water distribution network, they are fairly volatile and therefore not usually found in environmental waters).