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Social-Ecological Systems Meta-Analysis Database: Variables

Variable TypeOrdinal
Variable Component TypePollutant
Variable KindComponent
ThemeBiophysical (learn about themes)
QuestionHow much of a pollutant can be incorporated into an ecosystem or organism before detrimental effects are observed?
Select Options1 Low, 2 Moderate, 3 High
ImportanceThis variable helps to measure the possible negative consequences of pollutants. It is related with the visibility of the consequences of resource users’ activities. More toxic pollutants may generate higher incentives to control/abate them than less toxic pollutants.
Definition"This variable aims to determine the degree to which a certain pollutant can damage the resources or actors of a social-ecological system. The effects of the pollutant can be low, moderate or high. Low: high concentration levels are required for the pollutant to be damaging High: low concentration levels are enough for the pollutant to be damaging"

Theory Usages

TheoryValue Used

Component Usages

ComponentValue UsedExplanation
Ozone Depleting SubstancesModerate (2)
Rhine Point source pollutantsModerate (2)Some heavy metals like Cadmium are very toxic while other like Zink are not.
Rhine Non-point source pollutantsHigh (3)Too much nitrogen and phosphorus in the water causes algae to grow faster than ecosystems can handle. Significant increases in algae harm water quality, food resources and habitats, and decrease the oxygen that fish and other aquatic life need to survive. Large growths of algae are called algal blooms and they can severely reduce or eliminate oxygen in the water, leading to illnesses in fish and the death of large numbers of fish. Some algal blooms are harmful to humans because they produce elevated toxins and bacterial growth that can make people sick if they come into contact with polluted water, consume tainted fish or shellfish, or drink contaminated water. Nutrient pollution in ground water - which millions of people in the United States use as their drinking water source - can be harmful, even at low levels. Infants are vulnerable to a nitrogen-based compound called nitrates in drinking water.