You may know by now how much water the earth has. And you would’ve heard by now that it’s getting more and more polluted.
Every day, plastic bottles, rubber tires, chemicals, drugs, and a lot of different pollutants are thrown into our oceans. Other than that, dirty waters from energy plants, industries, facilities, laboratories, irrigations, and even from our homes, pollute the oceans and the freshwater resources we have without being treated.
As a result, many people in developing countries got sick because of polluted waters, and many aquatic and marine animals are paying the price they shouldn’t. With all these developments and industrializations, are they really worth it? Are we still safe?
Water Pollution Facts
To know how serious this problem is, here are some facts about water pollution.
#1 Approximately 100 million animals in the seas and oceans die annually due to plastic waste
#2 Recent studies show that plastic is found 35% in seals, 60% in whales, and 100% in turtles
#3 The fishes we consume, both salt and freshwater, have consumed either plastic or microplastic.
#4 80% of untreated industrial and domestic waste is discarded to oceans, lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water.
#5 The 2011 tsunami disposed of 11 million L of radioactive water and nuclear waste into the Pacific ocean.
#6 Cholera and typhoid are mainly caused by dirty water.
#7 15 million children aged 5 and below die annually due to the consumption of polluted water.
#8 3000 children die every day by drinking contaminated water.
#9 It is estimated that 700 million people around the world drink contaminated water.
#10 Cruise ships release about 200,000 gallons of sewage water to the ocean.
These are just some of the many truths about water pollution that we don’t hear about often. But the numbers tell us that it’s alarming and that it’s only getting worse.
Types of Water Pollution
Water is one of the simplest compounds on earth. It only has 2 elements: hydrogen and oxygen, and the molecules are widely spread from each other. Add to it the fact that it comprises most of the earth, water is the most easily polluted and contaminated compound.
Since water exists or has many forms, it’s only rational to consider each one to make out the causes of what pollutes it.
Surface water is the water that is on the earth. It includes oceans, seas, rivers, lakes, streams, and waterfalls. The latter four are called freshwater and they are the source of drinking water in most developed countries other than dams.
Unfortunately, more and more lakes and rivers have become unsuitable for drinking, fishing, swimming, and other recreational activities. This is mostly due to nutrient pollution caused by fertilizers and pesticides from farms and irrigations.
Other pollution sources are industrial, commercial, and domestic waste, and not to mention the trash and garbage we directly throw to these bodies of water.
Ocean pollution, also known as marine pollution, is caused mainly by polluted waters that come from land. The rest comes from polluted waters that travel vessels throw directly in the ocean.
Heavy metals, chemicals, radioactive materials, drugs, nutrients like nitrates, and biological waste from farms, industries, laboratories, energy plants, go into our oceans via rivers, streams, sewage systems, and drains.
Out in the sea, oil leaks and spills can also happen in addition to cruise ships, cargo ships, and other sea vessels that dispose of their wastes directly in the ocean.
This is the water that some people get most of their drinks out of. After it rains, the water gets absorbed by the ground and goes deeper into a bigger reservoir or storage area called an aquifer. This is called groundwater.
Groundwater is pumped to the surface to serve as drinking water. Rural areas, especially in other countries. It gets contaminated when sewage systems or landfill wastes, fertilizers, and other chemicals reach aquifers.
These aquifers, when polluted, can contaminate other aquifers. The worst part is that first, polluted groundwater is hard and almost impossible to purify. Second, the polluted aquifers cannot be used for decades to hundreds of years.
This type of pollution stems from a single region or point by releasing wastewater by industries, facilities, laboratories, and other establishments that are regulated or not regulated by environmental protection agencies. But even if limits and regulations are set, some if not most still dump their waste illegally.
Even this pollution comes from a single point or source, it can affect far and wide stretches of water and nautical miles in the oceans and seas.
This pollution is caused by a combination of polluted water such as runoff mixed with agricultural water, or stormwater mixed with wastewater dumped by factories. It’s hard to regulate this type of pollution since phenomenons like runoff or storms are natural events and cannot be controlled. They can be predicted but they would still have the same effects.
As mentioned, water is widespread. It is a universal solvent and agent and whenever it’s polluted in one region, it will eventually get polluted in another. It cannot be isolated.
Cross-border pollution occurs when a country with polluted or contaminated water discharges it to another whether intentionally or not. Some examples are storms, oil spills under sea beds, runoff, or industrial spills.
As our population is growing, so is our need for water. The food we eat, the products we use, and the services we avail – all of these need water to be produced. There’s so much use for water and we are polluting it.
The crisis now is that while we still have enough to use, 50 years from now, it will get depleted. It’s easy to point our fingers to oil companies, big industries, or the government, each of us is also responsible to some degree.
The best we can do is to start with ourselves and start making wise decisions when it comes to the utilization of water, chemicals, food, everyday products, and even services. It may be small, but it makes a big impact.