Student Web Activity

Chapter 21 Lesson 1: Getting Smart about Pollution


Learning about the various kinds of pollution is the first step in learning how to protect the environment.  On the Web site below you will read about a kind of pollution called NPS.  NPS stands for Non Point Source pollution and is a major concern because it damages water supplies.  There are many things that everyone can do to reduce it.  On the Web site below you will learn what causes NPS and how it can be controlled.

Link to explore: The Environmental Protection Agency – Polluted Run Off:


  • Start at the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Polluted Run Off” Web site.
  • Click on and the “What is NPS Pollution,” “What You Can Do to Prevent NPS Pollution,” and “Do’s and Don’ts Around the Home” links.
  • Take notes as you read. 
  • When you are done reading, answer the questions below.
  • Finally, using the information from the link, make a NPS Fact Sheet that can be handed out in class.  Be sure to include practical things that teens can do to reduce NPS pollution.


  1. What is NPS caused by and what does it do?
  1. What are four examples of pollutants that are picked up and carried by rainwater and snowmelt?
  1. What are four areas of concern that you can address to help prevent NPS?
  1. Why is it important not to pour unused chemicals down drains?
  1. What are three ways you can get involved in community work to help reduce NPS?


  1. NPS is caused by rainfall or snowmelt water moving over and through the ground. As the water moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters, and even underground sources of drinking water.
  1. Examples of pollutants that are picked up and carried by rainwater and snowmelt include:
    1. Excess fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides from agricultural lands and residential areas.
    2. Oil, grease, and toxic chemicals from urban runoff and energy production.
    3. Sediment from improperly managed construction sites, crop and forest lands, and eroding stream banks.
    4. Salt from irrigation practices and acid drainage from abandoned mines.
    5. Bacteria and nutrients from livestock, pet wastes, and faulty septic systems.
  1. The four areas of concern that can be addressed if you want to help prevent NPS are:
    1. Urban storm water run-off
    2. Mining
    3. Forestry
    4. Agriculture
  1. Pouring chemicals down the drain may disrupt your septic system or else contaminate materials in water treatment plants.
  1. Some ways to get involved in community work to reduce NPS include:
    1. Participate in clean-up activities in your neighborhood.
    2. Write or call your elected representatives to inform them about your concerns and encourage legislation to protect water resources.
    3. Get involved in local planning and zoning decisions
    4. Encourage your local officials to develop erosion and sediment control ordinances.
    5. Promote environmental education. Help educate people in your community about ways in which they can help protect water quality.

Additional Resources for Teachers

Below are some additional resources on water pollution.  Encourage students to brainstorm other ways to get the word out.   You might also have them call the local office of the EPA to learn more about how NPS affects the water supply in their area.  Have them report back with specific suggestions of how to make a difference.

  1. Activities for Students:
  2. Home A Syst:
  3. Homes and Communities:
  4. EELink: