Effects of Water Pollution That Will Make You Want to Cry

Effects of Water Pollution
Water pollution has been a cause of concern for decades. With urbanization, it has increased to such enormous levels that it now poses a threat to the existence of aquatic life and human health.
Did You Know?
Studies show that the alarming rate of increase in water pollution has affected millions of lives. More than 780 million people do not have access to clean water, out of which around 343 million belong to the continent of Africa.

Water pollution, in simple terms, can be defined as the contamination of the water bodies when pollutants are released into the water without thorough treatment and removal of harmful components. It not only affects the environment and human well-being, but also disrupts the balance of the ecosystem. Here are some of the major effects of water defilement on man and the environment.

Surface Runoff Contamination
It is caused when the soil reaches its maximum infiltration level and the excess water flows out over the land. Surface runoff can be produced by rainfall, melted snow, or glaciers.

On Man
With urbanization being the prime reason for increase of surface runoff pollution, the water pollution effects are adverse. Often, the anthropogenic substances either get dissolved, or are transported with water as suspended particles. This water, if consumed, can affect humans by causing vomiting, renal cramps, and possible damage to the kidneys.

On the Environment
It causes erosion on a large scale, affecting the fertility of the soil and its overall quality. If the run-off water reaches a larger water body along with considerable amount of sediments, which settle down, then they prevent sunlight from reaching the aquatic plants. With lack of sunlight, the plants perish. These sediments also clog fish gills and smother organisms that live on the river bed.

Groundwater Pollution
The water present below the surface of the Earth between rock formations, or pore spaces of soil is called groundwater.

On Man
Fluoride contamination of groundwater has been a cause of concern for a long time. Excessive intake of groundwater with large amount of fluoride leads to dental fluorosis, fluorosis of bones, and metabolic alterations in the body tissues. Arsenic contamination causes vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and in extreme cases, skin and lung cancer.

On the Environment
Fluoride, arsenic, and other pollutants reduce the oxygen-carrying capacity of water. Sometimes, they also cause overgrowth of toxic algae, which induces adverse effects on marine life, and can even lead to the death of aquatic plants and fish.

Thermal Water Pollution
Factors responsible for bringing about changes in the ambient temperature of water lead to thermal pollution. When water is used as a coolant in industries and later released into the environment at a higher temperature, it results in the reduction of oxygen levels in nature.

On the Environment
As mentioned before, thermal pollution reduces the level of dissolved oxygen in water, proving harmful to aquatic animals, and thereby affecting the balance of ecosystem. If colder water is discharged into the water bodies, the productivity, i.e., the reproduction of organisms gets affected. Temperature increase also alters the enzyme activity of aquatic organisms, which leads to problems, such as malnutrition.

Agricultural Pollution
The products and byproducts required for farming, such as excess fertilizers, pesticides, and other factors right from point sources to non-point sources prove to be harmful to humans and the environment.

On Man
Cadmium is a metal found in sludge-derived fertilizers. This can be absorbed by crops. When people ingest cadmium, it may cause diarrhea, liver, and kidney damage. Heavy metals, like mercury, arsenic, and lead are toxic, and can lead to a fall in the hemoglobin levels, along with headache, abdominal pain, and problems of the endocrine system. Pesticides, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and pentachlorophenols (PCPs) are used in farming, homes, and forestry. If crops sprayed with excess fertilizers are consumed by human beings, it can cause various harmful effects, right from throat irritation to severe problems in the abdomen.

On the Environment
Rain and irrigation water drains off the cultivated land that has been fertilized and treated with pesticides. This causes the excess nitrogen and poisons to get mixed with the water supply. Growth of aquatic plants causes deoxygenation of water and annihilates flora and fauna. Fertilizers increase the growth of bacteria that are in water and intensify the bacterial concentration to hazardous levels. Studies show that PCBs and PCPs lead to DNA fragmentation and genetic mutation in animals that can cause cancer.

Industrial Water Pollution
On completion of the processes in the industries, the toxic and used water that is leftover contains a large quantity of water pollutants in the form of heavy metals and various chemicals.

On Man
A significant part of water used in industries is released into the water bodies without treatment. This water, especially if discharged from oil, petroleum, mining, and steel industries contains a large amount of heavy metals, such as lead, cadmium, and mercury. Excess amount of all three metals causes severe damage to the nervous system, skeletal deformations, and abdominal pain.

On the Environment
The industrial pollutants affect the water quality by altering its temperature levels. Growth of water hyacinth, algae, and other weeds is alleviated due to these pollutants. This leads to a drop in dissolved oxygen levels, thus proving harmful to the flora and fauna.

Years of constant water contamination has adversely affected humans as well as various species of plants and animals. Even though this condition won't change overnight, a step in the right direction needs to be taken today!
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