Non point source pollution | multiple sources of pollution

Non Point Source Pollution

The phenomenon which is used to explain pollution which results from many different sources which in opposition to point source pollution which come from only one source is known as Non Point Source Pollution

The reason for nonpoint source pollution occurs due to atmospheric deposition, precipitations, drainage and also due to the hydrological modifications or seepages in which the tracing pollutions return to a single source are difficult.

Water pollution due to nonpoint sources pollution usually destroys the water bodies from sources like foul runoff coming from agricultural areas seepage into the wind-borne debris or river which then enters into the sea or an ocean. Nonpoint source air pollutions influence the quality of air from different sources like car tailpipes and smokestacks.

As these pollutants come from the point source the comprehensive ability of transport and different sources of the foul makes it a nonpoint source of pollutions. Nonpoint source pollution is the antithesis to the point source pollution in which the liberation occurs in the atmosphere or in the water bodies at the single station.

Nonpoint source pollution can ride from other different sources that have no definite solution to change to solve the problems and it causes difficulty to regulate.

Nonpoint source water pollution comes from the work a day of activity of different types of peoples like as use of pesticides and fertilization, construction of a road or building constructions.

In the United States, it causes water pollution. The main source of water pollution is

agriculture and other hydro modification. Other important sources of water pollution are forestry and habitat modifications.

Polluted runoff mainly drainage out the reads and lawns, parking lacks and Highways usually consist of pesticides and fertilizers are called urban runoff. These runoff are usually characterized by the type of nonpoint source pollutions.

Sometimes peoples can also consume it as a point source the reason is that sometimes it may transfer into the municipal system and may discharge into the surface of water through pipes. In other words, all urban polluted water is not pass through the storm drain when they enter into the water body.

In the suburban areas and developing countries, polluted runoff can directly flow into a water body. In the same way, different types of point sources like as sewage treatment plant and other operation, Industrial discharge, pollutions in civil runoff do not attribute to one animation or other groups of activity.

Urban overflow pollutions sources are usually considered as an authentic nonpoint source it is not caused due to the easy identified and like as municipality works to diminish them. 

Examples of Non Point Source Pollution


It consists of suspended solid which are larger in size and slits which are the fine particle. Sediment can enter into the surface water due to the surface overflow and broken stream bank because plant covers are not proper on rural and urban land.

Sediment which enters into the water bodies may create the turbidity which reduces the intensity which reduces the intensity of the light to reach the lower depth of water and hence it causes resistance to the growth of plants which are submerged in water and affect the lives of those species which depend on  them like as shellfish and fish.

If turbidity is high it also causes the problem of a water purification system. Sediment may also discharge from a different source. These sources are consists of agricultural fields, construction sites, steams, banks and the areas which are highly disturbed.


Nutrients are inorganic matters that are come from livestock operations, landfills, and other croplands. Phosphorous and nitrogen are the two primary nutrients. The phosphorous nutrient is occurred important in different fertilizers that are used for agriculture and it is also applied on residential and commercial properties.

It also acts as limiting nutrients in the freshwater system and many estuaries. Phosphorous is usually transported into the water body through soil erosion the reason is that different forms of phosphorous are to be absorbed in the soil particles. If the phosphorus is present in large amounts it tends to proliferate of microscopic algae which is known to be phytoplankton.

If the organic matter is in large amounts it causes the excessive growth of phytoplankton which is termed as eutrophication. The most common signs of eutrophication are algae blooms which may produce erudition surface scum, shades out useful types of plant. It also poisons the water from the toxins which are produced through the algae.

These toxins may cause human disorder because it creates the problem in the system which is used for drinking water and removal of toxins is more difficult and also is expensive. Algae blooms which are decomposed through the bacteria use the dissolved oxygen and cause hypoxia for aquatic invertebrates and fishes.

Toxic chemicals and contaminants

A compound having heavy metals such as zinc, cadmium, lead and mercury, organics such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and some other substances are resistant to breakdown. These types of contaminants can come from different sources like mining operations, fossil fuel combustion, industrial operation, and landfill. Toxic chemicals consist of inorganic compounds and organic compounds.

These compounds consist of pesticides such as DDT, salts, and acids that may have very toxic impacts on the water bodies and the ecosystem. These types of toxic chemicals may have comes from building sites, orchards, nurseries, croplands gardens, lawns, and landfills.


Pathogens produce disorder in the public drinking water supply. Pathogens can contaminate drainage because the livestock operations are poorly managed because the septic system is faulty because pet waste is not poorly handled.

The main source of nonpoint source pollution

Urban and suburban areas

Drainage water is an important source of nonpoint source pollution in urban and suburban areas is occurring because of the greater amount of paved surfaces.

Agricultural operations

In the United States, agricultural operation narrative has a greater percentage of all nonpoint sources pollution. 

Atmospheric inputs

Atmospheric pollutions may become water pollution because it is passed out of the atmosphere in the form of snow and or rains.

Highway Runoff

Highway runoff is a small component of nonpoint source pollution.

Forestry and mining operations

Forestry and mining operations may have an important role in nonpoint source pollution.

Reviewed by:
Dr. Muhammad Tahir Ph.D. (PU)
Post Doctorate
American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA

See Also:

Biological pollutants | Animal contamination

Clear forest cutting | precursor of erosion

Habitat edge effects | emerging issues for biodiversity


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