Drinking water facts – Water pollution is one of the most significant challenges that we presently face. Generally speaking, water pollution comes from two main sources: point and non-point. Point source pollution comes directly from one specific location, while non-point source pollution comes from a larger area. Both of these types of water pollution are detrimental to the environment and human health. The specific causes of water pollution that will be discussed fall into these two categories.
The disposal of sewage and wastewater into marine environments is a significant factor in water pollution. Specifically, untreated sewage water can harm marine ecosystems and cause disease. In developing countries, the main concern in access to sanitary water, which is unavailable to many people. Conversely, in the developed world the major problem is people flushing chemicals and pharmaceuticals that contaminate the water.
Marine dumping is another major cause of water pollution. This practice can be both controlled and uncontrolled. Sources of marine dumping include garbage, debris from construction sites, waste chemicals, and bilge water. Different materials vary in the length of time they need to degrade; cardboard takes just two weeks while plastic remains for 400 years. As well as resulting in the death of marine animals, marine dumping causes occupational accidents and increased exposure to toxins through consumption of organisms.
Industrial waste also has detrimental effects on water quality. This has been a problem since the industrial revolution and continues today with many companies using water to carry pollutants away from their factories. Common chemicals include asbestos, lead, and mercury, which harm marine ecosystems and contaminate drinking water. In addition, radioactive waste is also an important factor in water pollution.
Another major source of water contamination is oil pollution. This can occur in a variety of ways, such as spills, shipping, run-off, and dumps. Oil spills are considered the most detrimental because such a large amount is concentrated in one place. This creates a localized problem that is extremely damaging to the surrounding area.
Underground storage leaks are also a cause of water pollution. These devices often store substances that are harmful to the environment, like petroleum. Corrosion usually causes the tank to leak slowly, leading to water contamination over a long period of time.
Atmospheric deposition, specifically acid rain, is another significant cause of water pollution. This is caused by an increased amount of various pollutants in the atmosphere that are leached out in the form of rain. Acid rain results in an overall reduction in biodiversity. Related to phenomenon, is the rising ocean temperature caused by global warming. This has a variety of effects, including coral bleaching.
Lastly, eutraphication greatly disrupts marine environments. Fertilizer running off into nearby water sources often causes this problem and it results in algal blooms. The increased amount of algae uses up all of the oxygen in the water, killing off other species.
Water pollution comes from a variety of sources and is a multidimensional problem. It threatens both marine biodiversity and human health. This is a significant challenge that is becoming an increasingly important priority.
Category: Water Pollution