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term health effects
harmful compounds
water treatment facilities
kidney damage
micro organisms
liver damage
rain and snow
Water Pollution Causes And Prevention
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Water Pollution Causes And Prevention

Water covers over 70% of the Earth’s surface. Out of all this, only 2.75% is fresh water, and most of that is frozen in glaciers. Only about 0.7% of all water on Earth is usable fresh ground or surface water. Water pollution causes health dangers in much of this water, requiring purification before we can safely drink it.

What are the Health Dangers of Water Pollution?

Water pollution is harmful to the health of all animals, including humans. Water contaminates like micro-organisms (microbial pathogens) can have immediate and severe harmful effects on health. Infectious diseases like cholera, and typhoid fever, are brought on by microbial pathogens in the water. It’s the leading cause of death of children in countries without water treatment facilities.

The ingestion of chemical and toxic water pollution causes long term health effects and chronic diseases such as cancers, brain and nervous system disorders, liver damage, kidney damage, birth defects and reproductive problems, and a number of other health problems.

Toxic metals like aluminum, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, and mercury and other harmful compounds from industrial processes may be dumped directly into waterways, or are exhausted into the air from combustion stacks, which precipitate back to the earth across great distances. These contaminates then get washed by rain and snow melt into standing water or into the groundwater. Toxic metals water pollution causes birth defects, and slow development in growing children, causes acute poisoning, cancers, and liver and kidney damage.

In agriculture, the heavy application of nitrogen-rich fertilizers to farm crops has become widely practiced. Plants adsorb nitrates from these fertilizers through their roots for quicker growth, but much of the nitrogen-rich compounds are flushed into our waterways through runoff. Excessive nitrates in bodies of water allow algae populations to explode, which uses up the available oxygen in the water, leaving none for other marine life. Nitrate water pollution causes large “dead zones” in lakes and coastal zones around the world, unable to sustain marine animals like fish.

Nitrates themselves are relatively nontoxic. However, when consuming water, polluted with high concentrations of nitrates, nitrates are converted to toxic nitrites in the body. Nitrites react with the oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in the blood, reducing or preventing its capacity to transport oxygen to body tissues. This deadly condition is known as methemoglobinemia, of which infants are extremely susceptible to.

Coal burning power plants emit ash that contain toxins like arsenic, lead, and mercury. The burning of coal from plants, and petroleum from transportation vehicles releases toxic sulfur dioxide gas and oxides of nitrogen. These compounds combine to form sulfuric acid in the atmosphere, a very strong caustic compound, which falls to earth as “acid rain” causing widespread water contamination. Sulfuric acid water pollution causes sulfuric acid poisoning, which is linked to reproductive and developmental problems, neurotoxicity, acute toxicity, and carcinogenicity.

What Can You Do To Prevent Water Pollution?

You can follow some simple guidelines in your everyday life to help keep our water clean:

  • Don’t dispose of paints, oils, solvents or other chemicals down the drain. Call your local municipality for disposal information.
  • Avoid buying cleaners that are toxic. Use non-toxic, environmentally-friendly household detergents, cleaning agents, and toiletries. They work just as well!
  • Take care not to overuse pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Learn natural ways to control insects and weeds in your gardens.
  • Become more active in writing to newspapers and legislators, voicing your opinion against allowing industrial emissions, and against allowing toxins in household products.
  • Become an environmental advocate to your family and friends, frequently expressing these simple guidelines will have a positive impact on habits and behavior.


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