Top 10 Causes Of Water Pollution
Top 10 Causes Of Water Pollution: Poisoning The Very Source Of Life On Earth
At OrangeWebsite, we are very environmentally conscious, our company and data centre being in Iceland are both 100% reliant on Green Energy Our home country is renowned for its beautiful waters, drinkable straight from the source. But this isn’t the case around the world. Water is without a doubt, the most precious gift of nature. With 70% of earth being covered in water, it is also our biggest resource. Each and every living being on this planet knows the importance of water. And, with us humans, the most intelligent of them all, being at the top, one would expect that we would have protected this valuable asset. But, alas! With our careless attitude and blind greed, we have managed to corrupt our greatest gift. The top 10 causes of water pollution mentioned below will throw light on what exactly is responsible for causing such harm to the planet and all its inhabitants.
Water is said to be polluted when it gets contaminated due to the entry of foreign substances that changes its composition. This includes all water bodies such as canals, lakes, rivers, ponds, sea, ocean, etc. Of course, water pollution is not something anyone would be unaware of. For most places around the world, it is a common sight. Although there are also natural phenomena that lead to water pollution, mankind is responsible for almost, all of the top 10 causes of water pollution. Even the 10 most polluted river in the world is all thanks to these various human activities.
Sources of Water Pollution
From plastic material to chemicals, a wide range of pollution infests our water bodies, poisoning our most essential resource. The various types of water pollution that we have to face today can be classified as coming from primarily two sources, the Point and Non-Point source. That is, the pollution either occurs due to a single source such as industrial discharge, or the pollution occurs from multiple sources, that is rainwater washing along pollutants from multiple regions into the water bodies. If this interests you, check out an article on Types of Water Pollution, it gives more detail on the subject. Let us now learn about the activities that are most responsible for polluting our planet’s various water bodies.
The Top 10 Causes of Water Pollution
Causes of water pollution #1: Rampant Urbanization
Indeed, the biggest culprit for spreading pollution is urbanization. Although mankind has progressed at a rapid pace, it has come at a very high cost. As you will see, urbanization is the primary factor responsible for almost all of the remaining causes of water pollution.
The ever-increasing population boosts up the demand for food and housing. This means increased construction and agricultural activities, which leads to an increased quantity of chemicals and pesticides contaminating the groundwater. With rising population levels, consumption too keeps rising, leading to vast amounts of domestic trash being generated. These include chemicals and detergents used for cleaning purposes, personal care products and of course, single-use plastic! The havoc that plastic has wrecked when it comes to polluting the planet is unmatched. An era of plastic overkill, is an eye-opener, in case you’re not aware of the magnitude at which plastic has polluted our planet. And, if the pollution crisis does concern you, the most useful step you could take is to reduce the amount of plastic and other inorganic trash that you and your household generate. Even simple measures such as using a Bamboo Toothbrush or a Bamboo Straw instead of the plastic alternatives, can go a long way in containing the pollution levels and also in spreading awareness among others. Check out our Eco Shop for more.
Causes of water pollution #2: Unchecked Industrialization
A major driving force of urbanization are the many industries around the world. The waste discharged by these industries on a regular basis is dense with toxic chemicals and other pollutants such as mercury, asbestos, lead, sulfur, etc. All these chemical ends up polluting not just the water, but the land and air as well.
Although, most countries have regulations t ensure proper waste disposal and management systems are in place, they are seldom followed. Due to the high cost incurred in waste management, most businesses tend to flout these regulations. As a result tons of toxic waste gets discharged into our lakes, rivers, sea, etc. Sometimes the case is so severe that it ends up changing the colour of the water body and destroying life underneath, where the pollution levels get too high. A perfect example of the consequence of unchecked industrialization is one of our neighbouring countries, infamous for being the most polluted rivers in the world.
Causes of water pollution #3: Agricultural Byproducts
The consequence of a rising population is the rising demand for food. As a result, the agricultural sector gets into a race to meet these demands by using chemical fertilizers and pesticides to increase production. Over time these chemicals end up polluting the soil and groundwater. Additionally, when it rains, all of these chemicals get washed along with the rainwater and end up in the river, lake or pond, polluting the water body. A common effect of such pollution is the dense growth of algae in the water bodies, due to the increased presence of phosphates, nitrates, etc., which deplete the oxygen levels in the water.
Causes of water pollution #4: Excessive Mining Activities
As urban development progress and industrial activity increases, the rising demand for our precious resources is met by excessive mining activities. During mining, as the rocks get crushed, it releases sulfides, other chemicals and trace metals. All of these are harmful to our health. Additionally, the toxicity further increases when they get mixed with water. Health issues among mining workers and nearby residents being a typical scenario is a testament to the harmful effects of excessive mining.
Causes of water pollution #5: Sewer Lines Leaks
Sewer lines are a thriving place for harmful bacteria, pathogens and are loaded with chemicals that come from households, commercial outlets, etc. Due to heavy load, decay, accidents and other circumstances, the sewer lines often tend to leak in certain places. The pollutants then end up polluting the groundwater leading to the spreading of various diseases. If left unchecked for a long time, the leaking sewer water reaches the surface and becomes a breeding ground for insects such as mosquitoes.
Causes of water pollution #6: Accidental Oil Spills
Oil spills such as those caused by ships due to accidents or malfunction is a major threat to marine life because of the massive scale at which it happens. This is because of the large number of oil ships tend to carry. Once spilled, since it doesn’t dissolve, the oil contaminates a large patch in the ocean for a long time, all the while destroying the marine life underneath.
Causes of water pollution #7: Burning of fossil fuels
Due to the high amount of energy it can generate per mass, fossil fuels are of great importance for development. However, the burning process tends to emit a tremendous amount of ash into the atmosphere. The emitted ash contains lots of toxic chemicals and metals. When these toxic particles come in contact with water vapour, it can result in acid rain.
With an estimated 21.3 billion tonnes being released into the air every year, the enormous amounts of carbon dioxide that pollutes the air, and eventually the water bodies when they settle down, is a significant issue with the burning of fossil fuels.
Causes of water pollution #8: Leakage From Landfills
The world produces billions of tonnes of trash every year which is loaded with all sorts of contaminants ranging from toxic chemicals and metals to plastic. All of this trash either gets dumped in the ocean or they are shipped off to some landfill where all of the harmful waste collects and sits for decades. Over time, the contaminants from this trash begin to seep down into the ground below where it finally pollutes the groundwater. Also during rain, many of these pollutants get washed along before it reaches a water body. Another major consequence of landfills leaking toxins into the ground is Land Pollution.
Causes of water pollution #9: Radioactive waste:
Radioactive waste is the by-product of nuclear energy generation. These waste products are highly hazardous to all life forms and are supposed to have strict regulation regarding its disposal. Despite the regulations a significant amount of radioactive waste either leaks or gets dumped into the ocean, thereby polluting the water and hurting all the life forms that will come in contact with it.
Causes of water pollution #10: Pollution Collected By Storm Water
Stormwater is the remaining rainwater that has not been soaked into the ground. These then run along the pavements, rooftops, roads, etc. before finally reaching some water body. Due to the various activities involved around urban development, the environment through which the stormwater runs along is filled with all sorts of pollutants, most of which occur as a result of the causes mentioned above. The stormwater washes along all of these pollutants till it finally pollutes the nearby water body.
With the help of aware individuals and the strength of social media, more and more people are now conscious of the hazards of water pollution and the role of businesses and poor management by governments in enabling the same.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however, there are some great examples of urbanization and the environment coinciding in harmony, Calgary in Canada is regarded as the cleanest city in the world. It goes to show that us humans and live with our industrial lives and not do harm to the nature around us. Share this article with people you know, so that as more people can demand a change, we can hope for a cleaner and healthier future.