Water pollution has become a pervasive problem at an alarmingly quick rate. This has made it essential to spread awareness about its causes and effects and also learn how we can do our bit to alleviate the problem.
There are multiple ways we unknowingly contribute to the worsening of matters when it comes to water pollution. This article encapsulates the meaning, causes, effects, and possible solutions to this grave world issue. It also tries to answer the frequent queries about water pollution in an effort to enhance the knowledge of the reader.
What is water pollution?
In layman’s language, water pollution is the contamination of water bodies due to human activities. It is a comprehensive term that refers to all the evil human activities that lead to the exploitation of water bodies. Some types of water pollution are groundwater pollution, surface water pollution, chemical pollution, etc.
Who is to be blamed?
In this fast pacing world, where humans want to fell headlong into the most unscrupulous and productive activities, they leave behind the trails of sludge. Many poets wielded their pens to teach the importance of water.
Once, W. H. Auden quoted, “Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”
No matter how indispensable water is, the exploitative industrial, domestic, and scientific activities have negated the importance of water.
A water pollution fact is that almost 80% of the world’s waste is dumped directly or indirectly into the water bodies. Studies have shown that every year over 1.3 to 4 million cases of cholera are reported, out of which up to 1,43,000 people die.
Water pollution causes
Water is the greatest solvent. Water selflessly dissolves all the harmful and contaminated things. Although, there are a plethora of causes behind waste disposal in water bodies. We will cite some of the major water pollution sources:
1. Industrial waste:
Industries require water for processing the goods and in machines. These machines induce toxic and chemicals into the water. This wastewater has to be dumped somewhere. So, many industrial units and factories dump their toxic waste into the rivers and lakes, ponds situated in the vicinity.
According to the norms, the industries must process the wastewater, and the dumping must occur after extreme weather conditions.
However, many companies defy the statute and don’t follow proper waste management techniques. The organic waste must be completely incinerated, and the hazardous liquid waste must be slowly and carefully injected into the ground.
2. Oil spills
Oil has been the greatest discovery of human evolution. After the industrial revolution, its use proliferated manifolds. However, it is rightly said that to err is human. Due to combined ill fates and human errors, we have experienced some of the greatest oil spills, which resulted in the mass destruction of wildlife, marine life, the devastation of coastlines, pollution of fisheries, and a lot more.
Walking down memory lane, we are reminded of The Amoco Cadiz oil spill of 1978. The crude carrier was loaded with 69 million gallons of crude oil that knocked down on the coast of Brittany, France. The spill was catastrophic for marine life as it leads to widespread deaths of millions of invertebrates.
This was an accident, but many oil spills have been inflicted deliberately during wars. Such oil spills account for 12% of the oil that enters water bodies. This oil forms a layer on the surface of the water, causing asphyxiation to marine plants and animals.
3. Household activities
Water bodies get deeply impacted due to the household waste generated. We have afflicted the water bodies with our harmful activities. The disposal of sludge containing organic waste, bathing animals in water bodies, excretion of feces in water bodies, urination, dumping of domestic waste, improper drainage system, and plastic disposal are some of the proliferating issues that result in water pollution. Perpetrators should be levied with hefty fines.
4. Global warming
Global warming causes a surge in the temperature of water bodies which in turn leads to excessive buildup of carbon dioxide inside the water. This causes the widespread death of aquatic animals. The situation is further aggravated due to mass deaths inside the water body.
Effects of Water Pollution
The ill effects of contamination of water bodies transcend much beyond environmental effects. The devastating effects of water pollution can jeopardize the economy, human resources,s, and the environment.
People are pretty aware of the environmental and health hazards associated with water pollution, but the economic loss due to damaged water bodies can be humongous.
Hardly there will be an industry that doesn’t depend upon water for its raw material. When the biological oxygen demand exceeds a certain level, it means there is considerable pressure on water bodies which can lead to dilapidation in the water quality.
During such times, the GDP of the regions that directly or indirectly depend on the associated water basin falls by one-third.
Some of the other harmful effects of water pollution are:
1. Damage to Biodiversity
Contamination of water with toxins and chemical compounds, and other waste materials leads to mass destruction of the aquatic flora and fauna. The rise of levels of nitrates and phosphates change the pH level of water, making it too basic or too acidic, suffocating the wildlife to death.
The excessive presence of carbon dioxide in water causes asphyxiation, and aquatic plants and animals die due to decreased levels of dissolved oxygen. Water pollution triggers the growth of phytoplankton.
This process is called eutrophication. This restricts the sunlight and oxygen from reaching the greater depths of the water body proliferating the deaths of useful aquatic plants and animals.
Effects of water pollution on human health are dangerous. Consumption of contaminated water directly or indirectly from water bodies causes many bacterial and viral infections. Some of the diseases that are inflicted due to polluted water are typhoid, encephalitis, hepatitis; gastrointestinal are spreading through polluted water, cholera, poliomyelitis, and skin infection.
3. Scarcity of safe drinking water
Safe drinking water is a basic human right. We need clean and fresh water for cooking, drinking, watering plants, washing clothes, bathing, food production, and recreational purposes.
In the world, 785 million people lack safe and drinkable drinking water, and around 2 billion people are exposed to water sources that are contaminated with feces. And it is estimated that by the year 2025, about half of the world population will be living under water stress. It was also predicted that the paramount reason behind World War 3 could be water.
Forests are mainly dependent on water bodies that act as one of their essential inputs. Contamination of water bodies disturbs their pH levels which makes the water too acidic. This acidic water can lead to the death of plants. This destruction can occur on a huge scale and lead to deforestation. Deforestation further has its own catastrophic effects.
5. Disruption in the food chain
The contaminants in water bodies can be consumed by both aquatic and land organisms interfering with their internal organs. The contaminant percentage keeps on adding up at subsequent levels of the food chain resulting in the destruction of the animals and disrupting the food chain.
What can we do to overcome water pollution?
Water pollution solutions:
1. Use your rationale
To combat the situation of water pollution, try to induce baby steps towards preventing water contamination. Reduce the use of plastics so that their disposal doesn’t lead to the asphyxiation of aquatic animals. Reduce the use of pesticides and fertilizers. Opt for the organic pest control system.
2. Phosphate-free shopping
Reduce your phosphate consumption by purchasing phosphate-free soaps. The accumulation of phosphates in water bodies provides nutrients to phytoplankton and proliferates the process of eutrophication.
3. Support NGOs
Support those who work for cleaning water bodies. At a small level, we can aid these NGOs by volunteering and providing financial help.
4. Follow a proper waste disposal system
make sure that the waste gets disposed of properly without clogging drains and never dump waste directly in water bodies.
5. Avoid bathing in water bodies
People recklessly bathe in the water bodies contaminating the water and making it unfit for consumption.
Frequently asked questions:
1. What is causing water pollution?
Human activities cause water pollution. The prime reasons behind water pollution are global warming, scientific activities, oil spills, domestic waste, radioactive waste, agricultural waste, and many more. Water pollution is a grave issue that needs to be addressed.
The Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activity is an UN-initiated program to regulate and control wastewater treatment. UN Environment is also a sustainable development custodian to regulate and formulate guidelines for countries.
2. What are water pollution and its effects?
Water pollution is the introduction of harmful and toxic soluble and insoluble substances in water. Some of the harmful effects of water pollution are Widespread diseases, mass destruction of marine life, economic loss, rise in infant mortality, lack of safe drinking water, disruption in the food chain, etc.
3. What is water pollution answer?
According to the glossary of statistical terms, “Water pollution refers to the presence in water of harmful and objectionable material —obtained from sewers, industrial wastes and rainwater runoff in sufficient concentrations to make it unfit for use.”
It refers to the introduction of water pollutants in water bodies. These pollutants can be pathogens, organic and inorganic compounds, parasites, fertilizers, pharmaceutical products, nitrates, human waste, phosphates, and radioactive items.
Water Pollution is a grave problem, but it can still be controlled from getting any worse. With some minor changes in our lifestyle and a few conscious changes, we can massively contribute toward saving water. The contamination of water is also a manifestation of our own careless behavior and corporate greed. We hope with this article, every reader will find new awareness to do better and save the environment.