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What is the Cause of Water Pollution?
Water pollution refers to changes in the physical, biological and chemical conditions of any body of water that harmfully disrupt the balance of the ecosystem.
Like any type of pollution, water pollution results when an overwhelming amount of waste coming from various pollutant sources can no longer be accommodated by the natural ecosystem. Consequently, when wastes are not destroyed as quickly as they are produced, they make them unfavorable for humans and many other organisms. But that’s not all. Learn more about what causes water pollution.
There are actually many specific reasons behind what causes water pollution. However, it is important to be familiar with the two main categories of water pollution. Some pollution comes directly from a specific location. This type of pollution is called point source pollution such as sewage pipes that empty polluted water into rivers and farmland. Meanwhile, non-point source pollution is pollution that comes from large areas such as gasoline and other impurities from highways that run into lakes and rivers.
What are the causes of water pollution? Who are the culprits who should be responsible for the damage caused by their polluters? How do these sources of pollution pollute different bodies of water?
A major cause of water pollution that has caused serious environmental and health problems are pollutants from chemical and industrial processes. When factories and manufacturers pour their chemicals and livestock waste directly into streams and rivers, the water becomes poisonous and oxygen levels are depleted causing the death of many aquatic organisms. These wastes include solvents and toxic substances. Most waste is not biodegradable. Power plants, paper mills, refineries, automobile factories dump waste into rivers.
Hot water from power plants is called thermal pollution. This kills aquatic animals and plants by reducing the oxygen content of the water. Power plants use water to cool their machinery, thereby changing the temperature of the water.
In addition to thermal pollution, there are also organic and inorganic pollutants. Organic waste includes waste from slaughterhouses, fish and meat canneries, and tanning companies, manufacturing plants, pesticide and crude oil companies. As organic waste is decomposed by microorganisms, most of the oxygen dissolved in the water is used up and the waste begins to stink.
Inorganic waste includes toxic and corrosive substances such as acids, heavy metals, mercury, cadmium and lead, which can damage normal body processes. Battery manufacturers, mines, paper mills increase the concentration of mercury making the water dangerous and poisonous to most living things.
Another cause of water pollution is from pesticides. Farm pesticides poison aquatic plants and animals. Animal manure, chemical fertilizers, phosphate detergent pollute the water by supplying excess nutrients. This pollution is known as eutrophication. This greatly increases the growth of algae in the water thereby reducing the amount of oxygen level in the water causing the death of many aquatic organisms.
Water is also being polluted by waste, especially plastic and other plastic-like substances. Some plastics such as nylon can confuse fish and other marine animals. Plastic that has broken down into small pieces can be eaten by sea creatures which can cause their death. Since plastic is not biodegradable, it will continue to kill more fish.
Another cause of water pollution is sewage from households. Since no one wants to live in a polluted area, near a dump or landfill, sewage and untreated sewage leave the house polluting various water bodies. Most developing countries practice this type of sewage disposal. Even modern countries transport badly treated sewage in canals leading to large bodies of water. The danger is when sewage pipes break and waste contaminates drinking water. When that happens, the breach will open up a wide range of water-borne diseases that are sure to pose a risk to consumers.
The last among the causes of water pollution are personal care and household products. Shampoo, lotion, moisturizer, hair dye, bleach, laundry detergent, fabric softener and many more contribute to water pollution. Human waste is not the only thing that goes into sewage. These products also join sewage to pollute streams, rivers and lakes.
Although the world is full of water, only three percent of it is potable. The 3% source of drinking water includes streams, springs, rivers, lakes and waterfalls that are constantly threatened and contaminated by various factors that cause water pollution. If the sources of water pollution are not controlled, this basic necessity will eventually become a rare commodity that only a few can afford.
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