Being a natural solvent, water dissolves almost anything. This makes it easier for toxic substances to enter water bodies and get dissolved in them, affecting all the plants and animals that indulge in it. This is a cause of serious concern because our lives depend on water and we can’t go even a day without it.
Water pollution is defined as the phenomenon that occurs when harmful substances like chemicals and microorganisms contaminate natural sources of water such as rivers, lakes, oceans or any other water bodies, degrading the quality of water and making it dangerous to consume.
Causes of water pollution
- Sewage And Waste Water
Sewage, garbage and other household liquid wastes, agricultural and factory wastes in liquid form are discharged into lakes and rivers. These wastes contain harmful chemicals and toxins which make the water poisonous for aquatic animals and plants.
2. Industrial Waste
Industrial waste that is dumped into water bodies without being treated adequately contains pollutants like asbestos, lead, mercury and petrochemicals which are harmful to both humans, animals as well as the environment in general. This is a highly unethical practice that is followed by a lot of industries even to this day.
Oil spills in the ocean caused by travelling ships happen more often than anyone would like to admit. Moreover, tanker accidents keep happening, which adds on to this problem. The undissolved oil ends up damaging the purity of water, thus polluting it and harming all living beings whose lives depend on it.
4. Acid rain
Acid rain is a way in which air pollution leads to pollution of the water as well. When acid particles mixed with air and water vapour, it results in acid rain. These water droplets mixed with acid end up joining water bodies like rivers, lakes and oceans, leading to water pollution.
5. Global warming
Global warming increases the temperature of the water, leading to the death of aquatic plants and animals as well as bleaching of coral reefs. These result in water pollution.
Eutrophication is a phenomenon where there is an increase in the level of nutrients in water. This decreases the level of oxygen in water along with bloom of algae, negatively affecting the fish and other aquatic animals.
Plastic is used in almost every kind of manufacturing objects like electronics, automobiles, clothing and everything else. But the problem is that plastic is non-biodegradable and would take hundreds of years to break down. This makes it a huge problem for the environment. Thus, throwing plastic into water bodies has become a huge environmental hazard.
Effects of water pollution
Given below are some of the most predominant effects of water pollution in 3 different areas-
- On Human beings
As much as we hate to admit it, we humans are the primary cause of water pollution. Not surprisingly, we have to face the consequences. According to data from WHO (World Health Organization) in 2017, 2.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water. Additionally, as per a report in 2019, 785 million people lack access to any kind of water that would be considered drinkable. Waterborne diseases and water pollution usually goes hand in hand. Some of the most common illnesses caused by pathogens in water include Typhoid, Cholera, Dysentery, Polio and Hepatitis. These diseases are extremely dangerous and life-threatening.
2. On Aquatic Life
Plants and animals that live in water are most affected by water pollution. Polluted water causes an abundant growth of algae which reduces the oxygen content. This leads to the death of fish and other aquatic organisms. It is estimated that during the last twenty years, there is a decrease of about 40 per cent in aquatic life. Plastic kills fish, birds, marine mammals and sea turtles, destroys habitats and even affects animals’ mating rituals, which can have devastating consequences and can wipe out entire species.
3. On Food Chain
Water pollution has the power to destroy an entire food chain. Due to pollution, toxins transfer from one level in the chain to another. In extreme cases, an entire part of the food chain can be eliminated entirely. These affect other organisms too, either by causing excessive growth or death.
Water pollution control measures
- Proper sewage treatment and management
Treating wastewater before disposing of them into the environment can go a long way in reducing water pollution. This makes the water clean and enough to go back into the water cycle, thus ensures that toxic wastes do not enter water bodies such as lakes, rivers and oceans.
2. Dispose of trash properly
When the trash is not disposed of the way it is supposed to, it ends up in the water bodies. These, especially the non-biodegradable ones, cause a lot of harm to the environment. Therefore it is necessary to follow the right way of disposing of garbage.
3. Avoid direct dumping into water systems
Disposing of rubbish or any other waste products into lakes, rivers, streams or oceans, should be avoided at any cost. Moreover, taking small steps like cleaning your local water body whenever you notice rubbish littering the beaches or banks can make a huge difference.
4. Always conserve water
This one cannot be stressed enough. You can play an active role in reducing water pollution by taking steps to conserve water at all times. Conserving water not only prevents water scarcity but also reduces the amount of water that requires treatment.
5. Always opt for recyclable and reusable options
Reusable and recycled materials avoid the unnecessary use of water. By using these options, it, therefore, means you are conserving water. At the same time, you are minimizing the amount of wastewater produced during production and processing. This should also include re-using dishware and linens such as towels and bedsheets.
6. Insist on using environmentally safe products
Whenever you purchase household products such as cleaning material, medical supplies, paints, insect/ant repellants, or chemical substances; always persist on obtaining and using products that are less harmful to the environment.
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