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Six Major Sources of Water Pollution

Many people understand that water pollution is a serious issue, but they are not fully aware of the sources of the water pollution. Here are six of the biggest sources of water pollution:

1.  Sources of Water Pollution from Sewage and Waste Water

A major source of water pollution is waste water which is produced from domestic households, industrial practices as well as agricultural practices results in pollution of many of our lakes and rivers. Sewage is waste water that contains laundry waste, feces and urine. Sewage disposal has been a major problem in developing countries and many people within these countries have no access to clean water or sanitary conditions.

2. Sources of Water Pollution in Marine Dumping

Litter that is being dumped into the sea is one of the other sources of water pollution. Items are being littered such as six pack rings that get caught around limbs of marine animals and many times causes serious health issues and death of animals is becoming commonplace at sea. It takes plastic packaging about 400 years to completely degrade. Aluminum takes 200 years to completely degrade, making this another of the sources of water pollution.

3. Sources of Water Pollution in Industrial Waste

Industrial waste is one of the newer sources of water pollution and it produces pollutants that are very harmful to not just the environment, but also to people.  Several industrial facilities will use fresh water to carry away waste water from the plant into the rivers, lakes and oceans. Types of pollutants from industrial facilities include:

    • Asbestos – asbestos fibers are carcinogenic and a serious health hazard
    • Lead – can cause environmental and health problems for animals and humans
    • Mercury – illness through mercury poisoning has caused adverse effects to humans and animals
    • Nitrates and Phosphates – fertilizers have nitrates that are being washed from the soil into water sources and causing eutrophication
    • Sulfur – it is very harmful to marine life if found in large quantities
    • Oil – it does not dissolve in water and stops marine plants from receiving enough light for photosynthesis. Marine animals and birds are also extremely harmed by oil.

4. Sources of Water Pollution in Radioactive Waste

Medical, scientific and industrial processes that use radioactive material produce nuclear waste are also sources of water pollution Marine habitats are harmed severely by nuclear waste. Nuclear waste comes from several sources including:

    • Mining and refining of uranium and thorium
    • Operations conducted by nuclear power stations
    • Nuclear fuel cycle

5. Sources of Water Pollution by Oil

Oil spills, run-offs, dumping and routine shipping cause oceans to be polluted by oil. Oil spills make up around 12 percent of all the oil that is in the ocean. When an oil tanker spills, it causes a severe problem because of the large quantity of oil being dumped into one place. Oil spills cause localized problems and are many times catastrophic to local marine life including fish, birds and sea otters. Oil can never dissolve in water and will form a thick sludge in the water. This sludge suffocates fish and weighs down the feathers of marine birds as well as blocks photosynthesis of marine plants.

6. Sources of Water Pollution in Underground Storage

Underground storage tanks are a network of pipes and tanks that have at least 10 percent of its volume underground. They will store substances that are harmful to the environment should it ever leak out of the tanks or pipes, making amongst the sources of air pollution. Since many of the underground storage tanks were constructed prior to 1980 and are made from steel pipes exposed to the environment. The steel corrodes and causes leakages thus causing contamination.