Background concentration

Represents the average amount of toxic chemicals in the air, water or soil to which people are routinely exposed. More than half of the background concentration of toxic air in metropolitan areas comes from automobiles, trucks and other vehicles. The rest comes from industry and business, agricultural, and from the use of paints, solvents and chemicals in the home.


A large group of unicellular or filamentous microscopic organisms, lacking chlorophyll and multiplying rapidly by simple fissure.


The manner in which living organisms respond to stimulation, sometimes called ethology.


Animals and plants living on the bottom of a sea or lake, attached or unattached, from the deepest levels up to the high-water mark.


A curb, ledge, wall or mound used to prevent the spread of contaminants. It can be made of various materials, even earth in certain circumstances.

Beta Diversity

or habitat diversification. Diversity occurring as a result of competition between species, thus revealing an increasingly narrow range of tolerance of environmental factors.


Substances that are very slowly metabolised or excreted by living organisms and thus increase in concentration within the organisms as the organisms breathe contaminated air, drink contaminated water, or eat contaminated food.


The determination of the character and strength of a potentially toxic compound by studying its effect on standard test organisms under laboratory conditions.


The animal and plant life of a particular region.


Any agent that kills organisms.


The ability to break down or decompose rapidly under natural conditions and processes.



A large number and wide range of species of animals, plants, fungi, and microorganisms. Ecologically, wide biodiversity is conducive to the development of all species.


Chemical, physical, geological, and biological processes and reactions within the natural environment.

Biological Benchmark

A concept in which animals and plants are used to measure pollution, either instead of or to augment the physiochemical studies traditionally employed.

Biological Control

The use of natural agents to control pests and other problems.


The total weight of all living matter in a particular habitat or area.


A community of plants or animals extending over a large natural area.


A process that uses microorganisms to change toxic compounds into non-toxic ones.


Residuals generated by the treatment of sewage, petroleum refining waste and industrial chemical manufacturing wastewater with activated sludge. (See Activated Sludge)


The regions (sphere) of the surface and atmosphere of the planet where living organisms exist.


A bioswale is a ditch that allows for rainwater to soak into the earth slowly, rather than flooding streets or going into the ocean. Instaed it soaks through the filtration of the upper soil and underlying aggregate then in to the local aquifer.


Of, pertaining to, or produced by life or living organisms.


Transformation of one chemical to others by populations of microorganisms in the soil.

Bottom Load

Material transported by running water, being either rolled or pushed along the bottom of the watercourse.

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