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Causes and Effects of Water Pollution

Water is an essential component of the environment, the life cycle and the human body. Earth’s surface is covered by 70% water and the human body is made up of 60% water. Without water, life would cease. Therefore, when faced with pollution within water, marine ecosystems, animal life and human health are affected. Many feel that the answer to reducing water pollution is to make changes within our daily habits. We need to start paying closer attention to the products that we use in our daily lives. Water pollution causes and effects are very real and something that needs to be continually addressed.

Major Causes of Water Pollution

There are many reasons for water pollution/contamination. The major water pollution causes are listed below.

  • Solid waste dumping and littering in the rivers, lakes and oceans is a large contributor to water pollution. Items that are being littered include Styrofoam, aluminum, cardboard, plastic and glass.
  • Sewage coming from households, commercial buildings and factories are also pollution factors. Water treatment plants that treat sewage will often dispose it into bodies of water. The problematic part of the sewage is the chemicals and pharmaceuticals that are flushed down the toilets and into the sewage drains.
  • Industrial waste from factories is also a major pollutant. Freshwater is used to carry the waste from the industrial plant into the rivers. This contaminates the waters with asbestos, lead, petrochemicals and mercury.
  • Oil pollution is also a form of water pollution that is caused by oil spills from various tankers and oil burning from general ship travel. Oil is petroleum that does not dissolve in water and as it sits on the water it forms a thick sludge that affects animal life and is harmful to humans.
  • Fossil fuel burning is also a cause of water pollution. By burning the fossil fuels there is the formation of acidic particles that are released into the atmosphere. The particles mix with water vapor within the atmosphere. This mixture results in acid rain.
  • Global warming and an increase in water temperature cause pollution. Thermal plants use bodies of water such as lakes and rivers to cool down mechanical equipment. The warming of the water cause aquatic life to suffer.
major causes of water contamination

Water is largely polluted by industrial waste


Effects of Water Pollution

Water pollution can demolish an entire society as it is used for almost all purposes. Here are some adverse effects of water pollution.

  • Contamination of the groundwater from the use of pesticides causes reproductive damage within wildlife and domesticated animals within the ecosystem.
  • Run-off from sewage, fertilizer and agriculture contain organic materials that increase the growth of algae. This then causes the depletion of oxygen. Low oxygen within the bodies of water will not be able to support most native organisms in the area and will disrupt the natural ecological balance in bodies of water.
  • Human health is a concern. Swimming in or drinking water that is polluted will cause skin rashes, cancer, reproductive problems, typhoid fever and sever stomach problems. It is imperative that water is clean and safe to drink.
  • Agricultural pesticides and industrial chemicals that find their way into the aquatic environment will accumulate in fish and other sea animals that are later ingested by humans. Mercury is a very poisonous toxin that is often found in seafood.
  • Rising water temperatures are destroying ecosystems and coral reefs are affected by the bleaching effect of the warmer temperatures. Native water species are being displaced as they search for cooler water. This causes an ecologically damaging shift within the affected area.
  • Litter that humans are responsible for such as plastic rings and bags can cause injury and even death to aquatic animals that are caught in them.