6 Types of Water Pollution That We Must Solve ASAP
Water is life and true enough H20 is right there with oxygen.
Almost every living creature on this planet from the smallest critters to the giant blue whale depends on water. For this reason, its alarming to know that many of the earth’s salt and freshwater sources are now exposed to pollution.
This begs the question: what is water pollution and why it should matter to everyone?
According to the “Water for Life” report by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, more people now die today from unsafe water than war and other forms of violence on an annual basis. About 3.575 million people die from water-related diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, and dysentery in just a year.
To understand why such a crisis is happening on our planet today, we need to take a look at its root cause- water pollution. As you know, water is a good place for bacteria and other harmful microorganisms to thrive. Water is also prone to contamination from harmful chemicals such as pesticides and sewage waste.
Different Types of Water Pollution that Threatens the Environment
In this post, we will be discussing the different types of water pollution and their adverse effects on the environment:
Plastic and Surface Water Pollution
There is no hiding the fact that our oceans are now filled with plastic. The Great Pacific garbage patch has an estimated 80,000 tons of plastic that just floats around in an island-like cluster. While many plastics settles on the surface of the water, the less buoyant ones eventually end up at the bottom of the ocean.
Aside from plastic, other garbage such as wood chips and styrofoam also drift on top of the water. The real danger of plastic ending up in the water is that a lot of birds and marine life form think of them as food. Animals who ingest plastic usually die either from chemical poisoning or from it blocking their digestive system.
Plastic is also known to cause suffocation and other injuries to small animals that come in contact with them. This is a serious problem, especially because even the most progressive countries can only recycle 5-per cent of their plastic waste. Furthermore, 50-percent of the plastic produced in the world ends up as pollutants or garbage.
We all know that oil and water don’t mix. Ship fuel, for example, will still on top of seawater. Oil spillage from a damaged or sunk ship is dangerous to marine animals because they remain afloat unless they are cleaned. The challenge, however, is that removing oil spills from the sea is a daunting task that requires a lot of manpower if not equipment and ships.
One of the most recent oil spills, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, saw 53,000 barrels of oil dumped into the Gulf of Mexico. It is considered as one of the largest incidents of its kind in history where an estimated 82,000 birds, about 26,000 marine animals, and roughly 6,000 turtles dead.
Although not as damaging as capsized ships, poorly maintained ships also play a major role in the amount of oil that is now mixed into our ocean.
Chemical Water Pollution
It’s no secret that a lot of factories and manufacturing plants dump their waste on bodies of water such as rivers, lakes and even the sea. Some cities even use their river systems as part of their sewage system outlet. In most cases, this renders the bodies of water to pollution and killing most of the fish and aquatic organisms in it.
Unknown to many, some farmers also end up polluting their source of irrigation whenever they use harmful chemicals such as pesticides. Agricultural areas which experience a large amount of rainfall a year are more prone to the effects of water pollution. When farms become flooded or overflows, the harmful chemicals can get mixed with the water which will end up in the nearby places.
Animal waste from poultry farms and piggery farms can also pollute the water. In many third world countries, they usually dump these waste on river systems or ponds. Unclean water from these contaminated bodies of water can cause several waterborne diseases such as typhoid fever and hepatitis.
It might surprise you but not all nutrients that end up on the bodies of water are good for its marine inhabitants. Nutrients such as potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus encourage algae growth. While algae are known as fish food, the problem arises when they overpopulate the water. When this happens, this can cause oxygen starvation for the rest of the organisms on the water.
On the other hand, this can also be harmful to humans or animals living near these infected waters. Aside from making the water undrinkable, they can also clog filters. This type of water pollution often occurs in industrial or agricultural areas.
Suspended Matter Pollution
Some water pollutants are also not visible to the naked eye. Chemicals, particles, and substances that do not easily dissolve often cause suspended water pollution. In time, particles such as silt which comes from decayed matter will eventually settle at the bottom the bodies of water.
Suspended matter can eventually kill many of the aquatic organisms that settle at the bottom of the river, lake, pond or ocean. Most of these substances are foreign to the bodies of water which can upset the delicate chemical balance. This has numerous water pollution effects such as making the streams and lakes less acidic.
Rivers and lakes aren’t the only sources of fresh water. In some places, you can dig water from under the ground. Rural areas in third world countries usually rely on groundwater, especially those who don’t have water concessionaires in their area. However, even groundwater is also prone to pollution.
Chemicals from landfills and highly polluted areas can sip in the ground especially when they mixed with rainwater. In turn, they can contaminate the groundwater source that eventually supplies water through pumps or deep wells. The toxins and other harmful chemicals mixed in the water can cause several waterborne diseases.
Water pollution is a serious threat to every life on this planet. The sad part is that we humans are the major contributor or cause water pollution. However, we too hold the solution to end this global crisis especially if we do our part to recycle and observe proper waste disposal.