In the first of a series of posts on urban diffusion pollution, postgraduate student in Durham University’s Department of Geography, Libby Fernspins down exactly what diffuse pollution is and some of the ways it gets into our streets and waterways. This is part of a series of posts on urban diffuse pollution awareness. Libby was one of a number of students from Durham University selected for the Environment Agency’s Pollution Challenge that showcases the best and innovative ideas from students, academics and industry on tackling the problem of urban diffuse pollution in the UK.

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If you’re anything like me, you would be thinking “urban diffuse pollution: that sounds like one of those silly scientific geography words that is more complicated than it needs to be”. You would be right. Urban diffuse pollution basically means urban mess: dirty litter, chemicals, gunk and nastiness. It is a problem for developed and less developed countries alike.  It damages our town or city environment, it is really spread out, it comes from lots of places, and is, in general, difficult to clean up and even more difficult to work out where its coming from! But just because it is hard to see where this mess comes from, doesn’t mean it isn’t important to think about. The trouble is, we have all, at one time or other, contributed to this pollution.

We add to this type of pollution by:

  • Not throwing our rubbish away in bins: look at it blowing everywhere at the side of the road!
  • Washing our cars at home: washing cars at home means soap gets all over the place. It needs to be done at a garage.
  • Not making sure our pipes go the right way (I’ll explain this in my next post tomorrow.)