Water pollution refers to the changes in the physical, biological, and chemical conditions of any body of water which harmfully disrupts the balance of the ecosystem.
Like any type of pollution, water pollution results when an overwhelming amount of waste coming from different sources of pollutants can no longer be accommodated by the natural ecosystem. Consequently, when the wastes are not destroyed as fast as they are produced, they make it unfavorable to humans and many other organisms. But that’s not all. Learn more about what causes water pollution.
There are actually many specific reasons behind what causes water pollution. However, it is important to familiarize yourself with the two main categories of water pollution. Some pollution comes directly from one’s specific location. This type of pollution is called point source pollution such as sewage pipes that empty polluted water into the river and farmland. Meanwhile, non-point source pollution is pollution that comes from large areas like gasoline and other dirt from highways that go into the lakes and rivers.
What are the causes water pollution? Who are the culprits who should be responsible for the harm brought by their pollutants? How do these sources of pollution pollute different bodies of water?
One major cause of water pollution that has caused serious environmental and health problems are the pollutants coming from chemical and industrial processes. When factories and manufacturers pour their chemicals and livestock wastes directly into streams and rivers, the water becomes poisonous and oxygen levels are depleted causing many aquatic organisms to die. These wastes include solvents and toxic substances. Most of the wastes are not biodegradable. Power plants, paper mills, refineries, automobile factories dispose waste into the rivers.
The heated water from the power plants is called thermal pollution. This kills aquatic animals and plants by reducing the oxygen content of the water. Power plants use water to cool their machineries, thus changing the temperature of the water.
Aside from thermal pollution, there are also organic and inorganic pollutants. The organic wastes include refuse from slaughter houses, fish and meat canning factories, and leather tanning companies, manufacturing plants, pesticides and crude oil companies. Since organic wastes are decomposed by microorganisms, much of the dissolved oxygen in water is used up and the waster begins to stink.
Inorganic wastes include toxic and corrosive substances like acids, heavy metals, mercury, cadmium and lead which can impair the normal body processes. Battery manufacturers, mining, paper mills increase the concentration of mercury making the water dangerous and poisonous for most living things.
Another cause of water pollution is from pesticides. Farm pesticides poison aquatic plants and animals. Animal manure, chemical fertilizers, phosphate detergent pollute water by supplying excess nutrients. This pollution is known as eutrophication. This greatly increases the growth of algae in water thereby decreasing the amount of oxygen level in water causing the death of many aquatic organisms.
Water is also being polluted by garbage specifically plastics and other plastic-like substances. Some plastic like nylon can entangle fishes and other marine animals. Plastics that have broken down into tiny pieces can be eaten by sea creatures which may cause their death. Since plastic is non-biodegradable, it will continue to kill more fishes.
One more cause of water pollution is sewage coming from households. Since no one wants to live in a polluted area, near a dumpsite or landfill, the wastewater and untreated sewage are carried away from the home polluting different bodies of water. Most developing countries practice this type of sewage disposal. Even modern countries carry poorly treated sewage to canals leading to major bodies of water. The danger is when the sewage pipes gets broken and waste contaminates the drinking water. When this happens, the breakage will open a wide array of water borne diseases that will surely pose peril to consumers.
Last among the causes of water pollution are personal care and household products. Shampoo, lotion, moisturizer, hair dye, bleach, laundry detergent, fabric softener, and many others contribute to water pollution. Human waste is not the only thing that goes to sewage. These products also join the wastewater to contaminate the streams, rivers, and lakes.
Although the world abounds with water, only three percent of it is potable. Included in the 3% source of potable water are the streams, spring, rivers, lakes, and waterfalls that are continuously being threatened and contaminated by the different factors that cause of water pollution. If the sources of water pollution are not controlled, this basic necessity will eventually become a rare commodity only a few can afford to have.