There are many potential health hazards that stem from consuming polluted water, for example, the outbreak of contagious and sometimes fatal water borne diseases. According to a study published in the Livescience Journal in April 2012, over 10 million people across the world suffer from diseases caused by drinking polluted water. The aforementioned study cites China, India, Peru and Zambia as some of the areas that are most affected by water pollution.
Causes of Water Pollution
In order to formulate effective and sustainable solutions to water pollution problems in any region, it is important to understand the causes of this problem. Here are the main causes of water pollution:
Improper use and disposal of certain chemicals and toxic waste can potentially pollute drinking water reservoirs. When improperly disposed of, pollutants such as pesticides, mercury and petroleum chemicals can leech into ground water bodies or rainwater can wash them into other drinking water sources such as rivers. When humans and animals consume water contaminated by such chemicals, they become susceptible to a myriad of health problems.
Organisms such as pathogens and algae are often the main cause of water borne diseases. Some of the pathogens found in polluted water include, viruses, fungi, bacteria and intestinal worms. These pathogens often get into water bodies such as rivers and streams through animal waste. Besides pathogens, some toxic types of algae that grow naturally in water bodies may also release harmful nitrates and phosphates that contaminate water.
Diseases Caused By Consumption of Polluted Water
Most water borne diseases affect the human digestive system and are often contagious. Examples of common water pollution diseases include the following:
• Diseases caused by the presence of pathogens from fecal matter in drinking water such as; typhoid, hookworms and amoebiasis.
• Respiratory infections.
• Liver/kidney damage or cancer to due consumption of drinking water that contains chemical contaminants such as chlorinated solvents.
• Neurological disorders due to the damage of the nervous system by chemicals such as pesticides in drinking water.
• Damage of the reproductive and endocrine systems.
• Thyroid system disorders.
Remedies Used To Reduce Pollution Of Drinking Water
Different countries and regions use different measures to address water pollution causes. These measures often include:
• Formulation and implementation of policies aimed at regulating the use and disposal of cleaning products and industrial chemicals that may contaminate water.
• Limiting the use of fertilizers and pesticides in agricultural production or educating farmers on how to manage water runoff from their farms to avoid contaminating water bodies such as rivers, which are the main source of drinking water.
• Organizing community drives to clean up toxic waste from rivers and streams.
• Educating members of a community on proper techniques of handling and purifying drinking water to get rid of harmful pathogens and chemicals that may cause diseases.
Overall, human activity is the leading cause of water pollution globally. As such, while it is possible for government agencies to minimize water pollution causes by formulating and implementing policies, the easiest way to improve the situation is by ensuring that individuals take personal responsibility. Simple steps such as proper disposal of household cleaning agents and correct management of compost yard waste can go a long way in preventing pollution of drinking water.
Water is essential to human survival and to the environment, yet is too often simply taken for granted. Industrial and manufacturing processes, personal habits and lifestyles, and our entire approach to using and disposing of water severely impact the quality of drinking water sources. It is important to understand water pollution causes and how to ensure safe drinking water.
Characteristics of Good Drinking Water
Good drinking water is safe to drink and has a pleasing taste. This means the best water for drinking is:
• rich in naturally occurring minerals
• slightly alkaline
• good tasting
We are all looking for clean healthy drinking water, but unfortunately it is becoming harder to find.
Adding any undesirable substance to water is considered contamination. While surface and ground waters are usually clean, there are many different substances that can contaminate drinking water. The most common pollutants are agricultural, industrial and municipal wastes. Even waste left on or under the ground can enter the groundwater and spread far beyond a visible range.
Typical sources of water contamination include:
• septic systems and leaky sewer lines
• tanks or pipes containing petroleum
• landfills and littering
• industrial and manufacturing chemicals
• ash from coal power plants
• road salt
• agricultural fertilizers and pesticides
• contaminants in snow and rain
• natural contaminants like iron, sulfides, manganese, radon, and methane gas
Any substance that affects the quality of the water has to be considered and analyzed for harmful effects.
Drugs in Drinking Water
There are other water pollution causes that are often ignored. In almost every water source tested in North America and other countries, there is an increasing presence of pharmaceutical drugs and over the counter medications being detected. When a person takes medication, some of it is absorbed into the body but the rest is eliminated, flushed and moved into the wastewater stream. The same thing happens to unused medications that are flushed down the toilet.
Treatment systems are not designed to capture these chemicals. As a result, the “treated” water ends up back in the environment, still containing these many different medications. Eventually this same water again enters the drinking water system. People drinking that water will experience the effects of drugs that were not intended for them.
Drugs for many different disorders have been detected, including medicines for infection, high cholesterol, mental illness, heart disease, pain, asthma, hormones, and anti-epileptic medication and Prozac and other anti-anxiety medications. Harmful effects can be devastating. For example, hormones can affect child development, and depression medications can cause behavioral changes and brain damage.
How to Find Good Drinking Water
Concerned consumers often turn to point of use treatment systems to improve the quality of their tap water. There are many types of treatment systems available, some inexpensive and others costing thousands. There are also different approaches to treatment, including filtration systems, reverse osmosis, distillation, disinfection systems, and ion exchange.
Some consumers simply resort to the use of bottled water, relying on the manufacturer to provide safe spring water or water that has been treated to remove contaminants. More self-reliant consumers use rain capturing systems as a reliable source of drinking water. Whatever the water source, every consumer should be aware of potential water pollution causes and take steps to protect themselves and their families.
One of the top problems that is being experienced the world over is water pollution. Apart from being a hard issue to tackle, as well as exposing man to a lot of danger. There are many water pollution causes which are discussed in this article.
The process of mining usually brings to the surface sulphuric compounds and heavy metals that were previously covered by soil. Once these compounds are exposed to the surface, some of the sediments get carried down to the water bodies which results in metal pollution and acid mine drainage.
One of the most serious forms of this type of pollution is cyanide pollution. This compound is used to extract gold from rocks. Not everyone is as careful, which means ultimately some of it finds its way to water bodies. The water is home to a wide variety of marine animals that depend on the integrity of the water bodies to survive. Cyanide is poisonous and may end up depleting the marine life. Cyanide also kills water algae that most aquatic animals feed on.
Many industries are cropping up daily, with most of them situated along water bodies because of the need for water in their processes. With more factories, pollutants also increase. These pollutants finally make way into the water bodies in large proportions to cause havoc to the marine population.
The factories release toxic substances such as sulphuric acid, mercury, used oil and lead. Among the mentioned, mercury and lead are some of the most toxic chemicals that can hard animals and plants. These compounds are also harmful to humans and can lead to death if consumed in large quantities. The compounds are non-biodegradable and may not be removed especially when it mixes with water.
Many industrialized countries get their items from other countries. These items can be carried by air or water. One of the major water pollution causes is leaking oil from tanks that are ferrying goods from another country. The spillages consist of gasoline, oil and additives that usually affect businesses along the coast, fishermen and marine animals.
Farming communities along water bodies usually utilize fertilizers and nutrients without knowing the effect on water. These compounds seep into the water thus causing excessive growth of aquatic plants. These plants end up consuming a lot of oxygen in leading to depletion. The excessive aquatic plants may also end up clogging waterways.
We all like to think of good old fashioned tap water to be the simplest and most reliable thing on the planet, we dont think twice about pouring ourselves or our familities the stuff in most westernised nations. Does that mean we shouldnt think about the potential hazards water pollution causes from chemicals like added flouride and lead from the old pipes?
We will be discussing the concerns many people have around drinking tap water and will also be looking at the water pollution causes themselves in great detail.