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Types, causes and effects of water pollution

  • Polluted water kills more people each year than war and all other forms of violence combined. So many chemicals, wastes, oils, and plastics are being dumped into our oceans, seas, rivers, lakes, and ponds. The amount of waste in our waters is largely affecting the plant, animal, and human health. If we don’ t start making changes now it will only get worse. The global demand for fresh water is expected to be one-third greater by 2050, and without enough fresh, clean water not everyone would be able to live long. I’ll be talking about the types, causes and effects of water pollution, and how to help save the water we so greatly need for survival.

    Water pollution

    Animals, plants, humans, and the environment are being largely affected by water pollution. Water pollution has caused 1.8 million deaths in 2015, according to a study published in The Lancet. A lot of pathogens are living inside these polluted waters, which is causing a lot of us to get sick when we consume what we believe to be clean water. Not only when we consume the water does it harm us, but also when we come in contact with it, for example swimming. According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), an estimated 3.5 million Americans contract health issues such as skin rashes, pinkeye, respiratory infections, etc from water bodies packed with sewage.

    Our environment is also being largely affected by unclean, polluted water. In order for us all to survive and live long and well, there is a very complex web of animals, plants, bacteria, etc that interact with each other to keep the environment stable. If anything happens to anyone of those species, it creates a chain of reactions that cause everything to collapse sooner or later. An example of this is when a runoff of pesticides and fertilizers is taken to the nearby lakes, soon algae would start to grow, in a process called an algal bloom. This algal bloom would reduce the oxygen levels in the water, causing animals and plants living in the lake to suffocate and die.

    Types of water pollution

    There are many types of water pollution, but I’ll only be discussing a few of them. First I’ll be talking about chemical pollutants. Chemical pollutants are chemicals that come from factories, pesticides, fertilizers, and oil spills. These chemicals might get into the water through factory wastes, runoffs from farms, or even an oil spill from ships in the ocean. The chemicals that get suspended into the water can be very dangerous to plants, animals, and human lives. Another kind of pollution is groundwater pollution. A lot of earth’s water is found in the ground, soil, and rocks, this is where most of our drinking water comes from. Often caused by pesticide contamination from the soil, these chemicals get into the water causing us to get infected by many pathogens that now live in the water.

    Causes and effects

    What causes water pollution? Well, there are many factors, but I’ll only be listing out a few. One of the biggest causes of water pollution is domestic sewage. Domestic sewage is the waste produced by humans or households, and it is reported to be the leading cause of water pollution by 75 to 80%. Domestic sewage contains toxins, solid waste, plastic, and harmful bacteria, which is often left untreated. Another leading cause of water pollution is pesticides and fertilizers. Only about 60% of fertilizers are being absorbed and used by the soil while the other 40% just stays on top of the soil. When it rains all those chemicals in the fertilizers and pesticides runoff heading straight into nearby lakes, rivers, and ponds.

    Mining is one of the leading causes of water pollution. When minerals and dirt from the mine come through discharged mine effluent and seepage from tailings and waste rock impoundments it could cause a lot of problems. The number of minerals and salt can increase in the water causing serious health problems. This waste that comes from mines could also interfere with the pH levels of the water, whether it be acidic, alkaline, or neutral.

    Some recommendations

    There are so many things we can do to save water, even the smallest things could help. 

    1- Don’t throw the trash into rivers, lakes, and oceans. You could also help clean the oceans, rivers, lakes, and seas in your community.

    2- Don’t throw paints, oils, or any form of litter down the drain. 

    3- You could use environmentally friendly household products, such as cleaning powder, etc.

    4- Eat more organic foods. The food we choose to eat has a huge impact on environmental quality between the chemicals used to grow food, the fuel used to transport crops, and the fuel used to power farm equipment on industrial farms.

    5- Use the 3 Rs rule, reduce, reuse, and recycle.

    6- Turning off the tap when running the water isn’t necessary, it helps prevent water shortages. 

    Water pollution is a really big problem, potentially harmful contaminants from arsenic to copper to lead have been found in our supposedly clean drinking water. 

    Water is a very important part of every living thing's day to day life. As British poet W.H. Auden once noted, “Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.” Without water we cannot live, so we must do, even the little we can, to protect and clean the water on earth.

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