We explain what water pollution is, what are its contaminants and causes. Consequences and solutions to avoid it.
What is the contamination of water?
Water pollution or water pollution occurs when natural bodies of water (lakes, rivers, seas, etc.) have various types of substances present. Elements other than its original composition, which modify its properties making it unhealthy, harmful to life, and therefore useless for fishing, agriculture, recreation and human consumption .
Water is the most abundant liquid substance on the planet and the universal solvent present in most substances and in all living beings, which without it could not exist. Life itself originated in the seas of our planet.
However, that has not prevented numerous human activities from generating an important impact on the water quality of the planet, by disposing of liquid, solid and even gaseous substances in the environment. And although there are also natural processes and human initiatives that seek to counteract the pollution of water, it is much easier to make it dirty than to make it drinkable.
According to many international organizations, the amount of drinking water available in the world predicts future crises of shortage . According to the UN, 3.1% of people who die annually on the planet do so due to consumption of contaminated water, which is equivalent to 2.2 million people.
See also: Soil Pollution.
What are the water contaminants?
The main water pollutants are:
- Sewage Product of urban consumption (sewage), industrial processes or other everyday human uses.
- Garbage and solid waste . As waste materials, metals, plastics, glass, objects that fall from ships, etc.
- Chemical and agrotoxic products . The chemicals used for the agricultural industry, to treat soils or for other specific uses, are often washed by rain and run into the seas or groundwater.
- Sediments and minerals . Like volcanic ash, sediments and soil or construction particles, such as dust, lime, etc.
- Radioactive materials Resulting from nuclear plants, they are extremely toxic elements that are stored in lead containers and are often thrown into the ocean as they have no better place to dispose of them.
Causes of the contamination of the water
As we have seen, the main (if not the vast majority) of the causes of water pollution come from the way of life of human beings and, especially, from the way we consume natural resources and have by-products and waste from our activities.
Since the Industrial Revolution and the exponential growth of the world population during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the needs of water, energy and raw materials of humanity has only increased. And the contamination of water, air and land is a direct consequence.
Consequences of water pollution
The main consequences of water pollution can be:
- Biological imbalances The presence of certain chemicals in the water can cause the abnormal proliferation of certain microbes or algae, which unbalances the trophic chain and generates abnormal competencies that, in the long run, cause the excessive death of certain species that will decompose by adding organic matter to the Water.
- Chemical alterations Changes in water chemistry can reach lethal extremes, in which local fauna and flora become extinct or migrate to other areas, causing severe ecological damage.
- Climate impact. Changes in temperature, pH and other properties of water as a result of added solid substances in suspension affect the behavior of the liquid masses, reducing their evaporation and therefore its precipitation and altering the local climate.
- Ground and air pollution . Water pollution does not only remain in the water, but spreads to the earth and the air, according to the water cycle, in a dominating effect of unpredictable consequences.
How to avoid water pollution?
To avoid or reduce water pollution, just be aware of this and ensure its use more economically, efficiently and responsibly. This happens by:
- Most responsible urban and industrial policies . Forcing them to dispose of the industrial by-products and sewage products correctly, mitigating the impact that these wastes inflict on the sea and lakes.
- Consumer awareness campaigns. The waste of drinking water is a daily reality, ranging from the tap that is left open while we lather our hands, to the drinking water that we waste wasting the sidewalk.
- Recycling culture The decrease of solid waste that will give, in one way or another, water or sanitary landfills in contact with groundwater, can occur through recycling and more responsible consumption .
It can serve you: Water care
Solutions for water pollution
Contaminated water often has a solution. There are purification and cleaning processes such as:
- Methods of bacteriological control and biological control of water.
- Wastewater treatments and reuse before returning them to the sea.
- Various filtering mechanisms.
- It will also combat air and land pollution.