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Water Pollution

The pollution of water is the contamination of water bodies (e.g. lakes, rivers, oceans, aquifers and groundwater), very often by human activities.

Causes of Water Pollution - Water pollution occurs when pollutants (particles, chemicals or substances that make water contaminated) are discharged directly or indirectly into water bodies without enough treatment to get rid of harmful compounds. Pollutants get into water mainly by human causes or factors.

Types of water pollution

Nutrients Pollution- Some wastewater, fertilizers and sewage contain high levels of nutrients. If they end up in water bodies, they encourage algae and weed growth in the water. This will make the water undrinkable, and even clog filters. Too much algae will also use up all the oxygen in the water and other water organisms in the water will die out of oxygen from starvation.

Surface water pollution- Surface water includes natural water found on the earth's surface, like rivers, lakes, lagoons and oceans. Any kind of activity that pollutes these surface waters can be called surface water pollution.

Oxygen Depleting- Water bodies have micro-organisms. These include aerobic and anaerobic organisms. When to much biodegradable matter (things that easily decay) end up in water, it encourages more microorganism growth, and they use up more oxygen in the water. If oxygen is depleted, aerobic organisms die, and anaerobic organism grow more to produce harmful toxins such as ammonia and sulfides.

Ground water pollution- When humans apply pesticides and chemicals to soils; they are washed deep into the ground by rain water. This gets to underground water. This means when we dig wells and bore wells to get water from underground; it needs to be checked for ground water pollution.

Microbiological- In many communities in the world, people drink untreated water (straight from a river or stream). Sometimes there is natural pollution caused by microorganisms like viruses, bacteria and protozoa. This natural pollution can cause fishes and other water life to die. They can also cause serious illness to humans who drink from such waters. This is called microbiological pollution.

Suspended Matter- Some pollutants (substances, particles and chemicals) do not easily dissolve in water. This kind of material is called particulate matter. Some suspended pollutants later settle under the water body. This can harm and even kill aquatic life that live at the floor of water bodies.

Chemical Water Pollution- Many industries and farmers work with chemicals that end up in water. These include chemicals that are used to control weeds, insects and pests. Metals and solvents from industries can pollute water bodies. These are poisonous to many forms of aquatic life and may slow their development, make them infertile and kill them.

Oil Spillage- Oil spills usually causes localized affect on wildlife but have the ability to pollute water at length and breadth. The oil can cause the death of many fish and stick to the feathers of seabirds causing them to lose the ability to fly.

Some Practical Steps to Prevent Water Pollution

  • Toxic products like paints, automobile oil, polishes, and cleaning products should be stored and disposed off properly. As a matter of fact, it is better to use non-toxic, products for the house as far as possible. Also, never dispose off such products by throwing them into your toilet or sink.
  • Refrain from throwing litter into streams, lakes, rivers, or seas. If you do spot litter on beaches or in water systems, after ascertaining that it is safe, collect them and dispose them off in any nearby waste disposal system.
  • Increased use of environmentally friendly household products like toiletries, soap-based household cleaning material, and washing powder as far as possible.
  • Increased use of natural fertilizers and pesticides as far as possible, or if not, do not overuse them or over-water gardens and lawns. This will help in reducing the pollutants that get into water systems due to runoffs.
  • Automobile oil should be re-used as far as possible. Also, it is important to keep your automobile well maintained in order to prevent leakages of toxic fluids like antifreeze and oil.
  • Conserve water by turning the tap off when you do not need running water, such as while brushing teeth. Apart from preventing water shortages, it lessens the amount of water that needs to be treated.

Methods of Water Purification

RO Method or Reverse Osmosis- Water is passed through a semi permeable membrane and it filters unwanted particles.

UV Method- Ultra Violet radiation is directed through pre-filtered water; these radiations kill bacteria, viruses, fungi etc present in water.

Distillation- Water is boiled to steam and further steam cools and gets condensed into pure water.

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