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WATER POLLUTION: IMPACT ON ENVIRONMENT

Water is one of the primary prospect elements for any living species, yet we are deprived of this necessity, the pollution of water threatens existence and makes it impossible for living species to survive. Aquatic life is more affected and the consequences can be more devastating depending on the degree of pollutants being dumped in the waters.

The planet earth is notifying us with increasing droughts that water is the essential essence and the main root of life. It is a core necessity for all living beings and is important to all economic and social development along with energy generation and climate change adaptation.

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WHAT IS WATER POLLUTION?

Polluted water is the one that is unfit for drinking, cleaning, or swimming or whose composition and concentration have been changed to an extent that it can not be used. Toxic water can neither be used for drinking nor cleaning as it is contaminated by toxicants such as chemicals, pathogens, or microorganisms. It makes it misfit to be used for any essential purposes and can cause many waterborne diseases.

Water can be polluted by many pollutants including bacteria, viruses, parasites, fertilizers, pesticides, nitrates, phosphates, plastics, and radioactive waste. These pollutants do not necessarily alter the color of the water, they are frequently undetectable contaminants. To evaluate water quality, tiny volumes of water and aquatic creatures are examined.

PRIMARY CAUSES OF WATER POLLUTION

It is often induced by nature, including when mercury leaks from the Earth’s crust into seas, rivers, lakes, canals, and reservoirs, poisoning them. Human activity and its repercussions, on the other hand, are the most prevalent causes of poor water quality, as described below: 

  • CO2 emissions produce an increase in global temperatures, which heat the water and reduce its oxygen concentration.
  • Forest mowing can deplete water supplies and produce organic waste, which can serve as a breeding site for deadly microorganisms.
  • Dumping of chemicals from industrial, agricultural, and livestock farming are the primary source of eutrophication.
  • According to United Nations, about 80% of sewage water is dumped in seas and rivers making it misfit for use.
  • Plastic pollution is a major source of water pollution and is mainly due to fishing boats, tankers, and cargo shipping.
  • Leakage occurs during the storage and transport of oil and its derivatives, polluting our water resources.

WATER POLLUTION’S ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

Contaminating water quality hurts the environment, human health, and the world economy. The reason for this is because when biological oxygen demand (an indication of organic pollution in water) crosses a specific level, the growth of the GDP of the areas within the related water basins is reduced by a third. Below are the few consequences that are caused due to water pollution:

DANGER TO BIODIVERSITY AND FOOD CHAIN

Ecological systems rely on a complex network of animals, plants, microbes, and fungus to exist, all of which interact with one another, either directly or indirectly. Any disruption to any of these creatures can set off a chain reaction that puts entire aquatic ecosystems at risk.

The use of polluted water for cattle husbandry and agriculture, as well as fishing in dirty seas, can introduce poisons into foods that are damaging to our health when consumed.

ALGAL BLOOMS AND EUTROPHICATION

When pollution triggers an algal bloom in the marine environment, the newly supplied nutrients encourage plant and algae development, lowering oxygen levels in the water. Eutrophication, or a lack of oxygen, incapacitates plants and animals and can result in dead zones, or practically desolate areas of water. These toxic algal blooms can release neurolysins that endanger species ranging from whales to sea turtles in some situations.

INDUSTRIAL AND MUNICIPAL WASTE

Toxic chemicals and heavy metals such as mercury and nitrates are dumped by various industries, municipal waste further intoxicates the water making it unfavorable for aquatic life to survive and endangers the life span and reproducibility of aquatic species. That is how tuna and other big fish accumulate toxins.

OCEAN ACIDIFICATION

Shellfish and coral are finding it more difficult to live as the water acidifies. Oceans are growing increasingly acidic despite absorbing approximately a quarter of the carbon pollution produced each year by burning fossil fuels. This process makes it more difficult for shellfish and other species to construct shells, and it may influence sharks, clownfish, and other marine life’s neurological systems.

These pollutants also take a long time to break down, keeping the water polluted for lengthy periods, ranging from months to hundreds of years. As a result, these contaminants end up harming, if not killing, aquatic flora and animals. Thousands of aquatic species, including fish, birds, crabs, seagulls, and dolphins, have died on the beaches as a result of pollution.

HEALTH EFFECTS OF WATER POLLUTION

Water that has been contaminated might also make you sick. Every year, nearly 1 billion people become ill as a result of contaminated water. Low-income communities are particularly vulnerable since their dwellings are frequently located near polluting factories.

HIGHER RISK OF WATERBORNE DISEASES

Waterborne diseases, such as disease-causing bacteria and viruses from human and animal waste, are a leading source of sickness caused by polluted drinking water. Cholera, giardia, and typhoid are diseases spread by contaminated water. Accidental or illegal sewage treatment facility discharges, as well as runoff from farms and urban areas, contribute hazardous germs to rivers, even in rich countries.

According to WHO, about two million have no other option but to drink this polluted water, causing them to suffer from dysentery, hepatitis A, and cholera.

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INCREASE IN MORTALITY RATE

As a vast range of chemical toxins is being dumped in the water bodies such as arsenic, mercury, nitrate fertilizers, and pesticides, these toxins can cause a variety of health problems if consumed, ranging from cancer to hormone disturbance to altered brain function. Children and pregnant women are more vulnerable. Even swimming can cause severe diseases such as hepatitis, skin rashes, corneal abrasions, and respiratory infections. Eutrophication has been related to an increase in paralytic shellfish poisoning in humans, which can result in mortality.

PREVENTION AND POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS TO WATER POLLUTION

More than half of the world’s inhabitants will live in water scarcity by 2050 so every drop of polluted water is an inimitable loss for tomorrow. Following are some preventative measures to be taken to reduce water pollution:

  • Mitigate CO2 emissions to avoid global warming and ocean acidification.
  • Reduce the usage of pesticides and fertilizers on crops that contain chemicals.
  • Properly treat the wastewater so that it can be reused for irrigation and energy production.
  • Reduce the use of plastics and try using biodegradable plastics.
  • Keep chemical cleaners, oils, and non-biodegradable substances out of the drain by properly disposing of them.
  • Inspire sustainable fishing to ensure the healthy life of aquatic species and avoid depleting waste and garbage in the sea.

VERDICT

Thousands of people have lived without love but not without clean water, clean water is crucial for life, about 80% of wastewater is dumped without even being treated into the environment, making our rivers and oceans highly toxic for living species. Our health is being jeopardized by the pervasive problem of water contamination. Each year, water contamination kills more people than all other types of violence combined. Waterborne diseases are increasing day by day due to contaminated water affecting children and adults. However, our supplies of potable water are limited: We have access to less than 1% of the world’s freshwater supply. By 2050, if nothing is done, the problems will simply get worse.