Water Pollution 101
By Grace Sun, Grade 10
“Water is essential to all of us living on Earth, whether we’re plants, animals, or humans.” This is said so often that you’re probably rolling your eyes just reading it, but water sources, so key to the existence of life, are drastically diminishing by the day due to human pollution and carelessness.
Water pollution is defined as “when unwanted materials enter into water, change the quality of water and [are] harmful to the environment and human health.” As we have seen in many countries recently, colorful bits of plastic choke the oceans and rivers; styrofoam and six pack rings kill off wildlife that consume them in oceans and pollute the major water sources people rely on. Water pollution not only affects animals, but it also affects the health of people living in less developed countries.
Despite its many uses as a universal solvent, water’s solvent properties also make it a major source of infection and an ideal habitat for the development of many bacterial, viral, and parasitic diseases. Mosquitos who lay their eggs in or make contact with contaminated water spread viral diseases, such as hepatitis, jaundis, and encephalitis. Parasitic diseases like cryptosporidiosis live and reproduce in contaminated water. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 80% of diseases are water borne and 3.1% of all deaths occur due to unhygienic water quality.
The most common symptoms for diseases spread by contaminated water are diarrhea and vomiting, caused by infection in the abdomen. Other symptoms include abdominal cramping, fever, fatigue, and weight loss for certain viral strains.
The major sources of water pollution include the discharge of domestic and agriculture wastes, population growth, excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers, inconsistent disposal of potential pollutants, and urbanization. Realistically, most of the sources on this list are due to poor management and can be preventable. That is why it is imperative to implement proper waste disposal systems and treat waste before entering into rivers to limit the amount of water contamination in an area. Local governments should also invest in educational and awareness programs for the public.
Plainly and simply, life on Earth depends on water. It acts as a pillar to our daily functions, and is a major regulator of society. However, the vital liquid comes at a cost—the fragility of its purity, and the contamination of it around us. The corruption of this sacred resource stems from within the human race, leaving behind a trail of destruction in the wake of industrialization. Even so, awareness about this activity is lacking, and not enough to ignite a change in our behavior. We require something more: a dire warning. And that is what Clearwater Innovation seeks to provide.
Cover photo from NRDC