Consequences of Water Pollution: Effects on Health, Biosphere and Economy

What is Water Pollution

Water pollution is the contamination of water sources by substances which make the water unusable for drinking, cooking, cleaning, swimming, and other activities. The possible sources of water pollution are Human excreta, Manufacturing and industrial plants, Agriculture and animal rearing, Domestic and industrial solid waste sites, Urban surface water run-off and to some extent Radioactive Wastes. Water pollution is a very serious concern and has many consequences on our health, environment and economy.

What are the Effects of Water Pollution

Effect on our Health

Water pollution is very harmful to the health of humans and animals. Water pollution may not damage our health immediately but can be harmful after long term exposure. Different forms of pollutants affect the health of animals in different ways:

  • Heavy metals from industrial processes can accumulate in nearby lakes and rivers. These are toxic to marine life such as fish and shellfish, and subsequently to the humans who eat them. Heavy metals can be carcinogenic and can also result in slow development of babies and birth defects.
  • The industrial waste also contains many toxic compounds that are dangerous to the health of aquatic animals and those who eat them. They can cause immune suppression, reproductive failure or acute poisoning.
  • Microbial pollutants from sewage often result in infectious diseases that infect aquatic life and terrestrial life through drinking water. Microbial water pollution is the major reason for the diseases such as cholera and typhoid fever.

Effect on Environment

  • Organic matter and nutrients causes an increase in aerobic algae and depletes oxygen from the water column. This causes the suffocation of fish and other aquatic organisms.
  • Sulfate particles from acid rain can cause harm the health of marine life in the rivers and lakes it contaminates, and can result in mortality.
  • Suspended particles in freshwater reduces the quality of drinking water for humans and the aquatic environment for marine life. Suspended particles can often reduce the amount of sunlight penetrating the water, disrupting the growth of photosynthetic plants and micro-organisms.

Effect on the Economy

Water pollution can be damaging to the economy as it can be expensive to treat and prevent contamination. Waste that does not break down quickly accumulates in the Earth’s waters and eventually makes its way to the oceans.

Water pollution can be prevented by stopping pollutants from contaminating nearby waters. There are a number of water treatments to prevent pollution such as:

  • Biological filters
  • Chemical additives
  • Sand filters

These simple techniques cost money to maintain, but prevention is much cheaper than cleaning up water pollution that has already occurred.

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