Types of Water Pollution
The Various Types of Water Pollution That Are Hard To Gulp Down!
Water – the source of life – is one of the most essential and precious resources, our planet has been blessed with. Covering over 70% of the planet’s surface, water, is needed for the survival and thriving of the environment as well as the people. The sad news, however, is that water pollution is one of the worst crisis mankind is facing, mainly due to our irresponsible behaviour towards the environment and also, lack of awareness. The various forms water pollution has taken, has far-reaching effects on the eco-system as well as our health. The availability of clean drinking water is one such primary concern caused as a result of water pollution. Cleaning this water again eats up on other precious resources that are needed for this process.
Water-borne diseases cause more than 800,000 fatalities, every year!
With the knowledge that pollution of the water will ultimately have adverse effects, on not just the marine life and ecosystem, but even on those dwelling on land, which naturally includes, us humans. Before you can do something about it, it is essential that you first educate and understand the various causes and effects of water pollution.
The different types of water pollution can be broadly classified as point-source, non-point source and, trans-boundary. In simple terms, it means that, if the water is polluted from a single point, such as an oil spill, then it is termed as a point-source based water pollution. Whereas, if there are multiple sources, surrounding an area from which pollutants are entering the water, then it is non-point-source water pollution. Trans-boundary pollution is when the water gets polluted even many miles away from where the pollutant source is, as in the case of nuclear waste.
8 Different Types of Water Pollution:
Oil spills, a well-known term by this age, is a point-source type water pollution that affects our oceans. While spills of a small scale only affect the immediate area, large-scale spills can cause damage for miles. Oil spills are also classified under chemical water pollution in incidents caused by a sinking ship or an oil tank breaking down.
The horrifying images, you’ve probably seen, of seabirds, seals, turtles etc. covered in oil, are a testament to how adverse the effects of an oil spill is to the environment.
Ever since the industrial age, chemical water pollution is one of the most known and witnessed, of all the different types of water pollution. When foreign and unwanted chemicals are added to water bodies, it leads to chemical water pollution. Such incidents can occur due to the spilling of chemicals by accident, chemical pesticides from farms into streams, factory wastes etc.
The presence of toxic chemicals in the water harms not just the marine wildlife and eco-system, but also humans and other animals, who may end up consuming this water. Water contaminated due to chemical pollution is known to cause serious health issues.
Plants, whether on land or water, depends on nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus etc. for its growth. However, sewage and wastewater, water from farms etc. that end up in water sources could contain vast amounts of nutrients, that end up damaging the natural chemical composition needed for the marine ecosystem to thrive. Such an imbalance sometimes leads to abnormal algae and weed growth, that also depletes the oxygen in the water.
Water-borne bacteria and viruses are known to cause severe and sometimes epidemic outbreaks of diseases such as typhoid, cholera etc. These are usually caused by naturally occurring microorganisms that end up polluting the water and infecting the marine life as well as humans who consume seafood or drink the contaminated water.
Oxygen Depletion Pollution
Biodegradable substances, such as those from industrial or agricultural waste, sewage water etc., when they enter water bodies such as rivers or the sea, become a food source for the microorganisms in the water. As these biodegradable substances break down, they use up the oxygen in the water. Oxygen depletion caused by this further promotes the growth of anaerobic microorganisms which are harmful to both people and the marine animals. Lack of oxygen damages the aquatic habitat and makes the water unsuitable for consumption.
Suspended Matter Pollution
Many chemicals, biodegradable matter and other pollutants contain molecules that are not soluble in water. These molecules, called particulate matter, when released in water bodies such as rivers or lakes, sooner or later settle down on the river bed. This matter then forms a thick silt layer at the bottom, causing severe harm to the marine life present there. Such type of condition is called suspended matter pollution. The biodegradable substance, also promotes the growth of anaerobic microorganisms, making the water unfit for consumption.
Groundwater, i.e. those found deep under the soil are a significant source of our planet’s water. The groundwater is also sometimes found in Aquifers that are formed below rock structures. By building wells etc., people often access the drinking water available in the aquifers. Chemicals, pesticides etc. often seep in from pollutants that gather on the land and contaminate the water below, leading to groundwater pollution. The single-use plastic that you might be using or definitely see everywhere is a frequent occupant of landfills. Most of the discarded plastic end up, either in the ocean or in a landfill. In the landfills, as the plastic begins to break down, it leaks out toxic, carcinogenic chemicals into the soil, ultimately polluting the groundwater.
Surface Water Pollution
Surface water is the most commonly observed water body which includes our streams, rivers, lakes, sea, oceans and other such small and large water bodies. When foreign and often hazardous bodies enter and mix with these water sources, it is termed as surface water pollution. With close to 8 billion tons being dumped into the oceans every year, the biggest pollutant of surface water pollution is, plastic!
The catastrophic level of ocean pollution caused by plastic can usually be witnessed as it washes up on otherwise pristine beaches. Here is just one of many examples: Galapagos Islands Plastic Pollution Problem. Such sad condition of beaches made by the plastic garbage is why initiatives like Clean The Beach Boot Camp have become a popular necessity.
The causes of and the types of water pollution are many. In some of the cases, it is a naturally occurring phenomenon such as those caused by microorganisms, volcanic eruptions etc. However, it is by far, the ones Man is responsible for, that is of the biggest concern. Be it chemicals, industrial waste, fertilisers, plastic, construction debris… The list just goes on, and each pollutant, deadlier than the next. The repercussions of high levels of water pollution are often life-threatening to not only the marine animals and ecosystem but also to humans. Which is why it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to do something about this mess we all have a hand in. Reducing your plastic consumption could be one significant such step you can take. Here’s an article to help you get started: Best Waste Reduction Tips
Help spread the awareness on the different types of water pollution, by sharing this article with your friends and co-workers. Or if you have a personal success story on managing the water pollution crisis, then motivate others to do the same by commenting below.