By definition, water pollution is the contamination of bodies of water as a result of human activities. However, it is so much deeper than that. Water pollution is the destruction of aquatic biodiversity, the depletion of certain food chains, the cause of various diseases, the lack of clean water, and even contributes to infant mortality rates globally. Water pollution is extremely serious and not one harms the environment but humans as well. The worst part is that water pollution disproportionately affects impoverished minority communities. Now, let's discuss the harms of water pollution by breaking it down into two categories, freshwater and saltwater.
First, let’s identify bodies of freshwater. One can find freshwater in lakes, rivers, streams, reservoirs, wetlands, underground, and even glaciers. Surprisingly, the Earth only consists of 3% freshwater. There is an extremely limited supply and humans consume water at a rate that it can not be steadily replenished. Therefore, it is imperative that we immediately begin to not only conserve water but also ensure that there are no pollutants in our water. Sadly, fecal waste, industrial waste, and chemicals have been dumped into rivers and lakes as a way to dispose of these products. Each of these contaminants contributes to killing our aquatic ecosystems and depleting our food and water supply.
When aquatic animals come into contact with these various contaminants, it causes them to migrate due to the loss of their habitat. In some cases they even end up dying. Additionally, this can cause coastal communities to have a depleted food source and eliminates their access to clean water. More importantly, the United Nations notes that, “Water-related diseases kill a child every eight seconds, and are responsible for 80 percent of all illnesses and deaths in the developing world,”(Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations). Heartbreakingly, these lives are lost to something that can be prevented. Each of these pollutants are detrimental to freshwater ecosystems and humans.
There are also plethora of issues with pollutants damaging our saltwater ecosystems. The ocean consists entirely of salt water and it makes up about 97.5% of the Earth’s water supply. Here are the statistics from Condor Ferries: “There are 5.25 trillion estimated pieces of plastic floating in our oceans, about 100 million marine animals die each year from plastic waste alone, about 100,000 marine animals die from getting entangled in plastic yearly, and 80% of global marine pollution comes from agriculture runoff, untreated sewage, discharge of nutrients and pesticides,” (Marine and Ocean Pollution Statistics and Facts 2020 - 2021). In our oceans you can find all of the contaminants that one would find in freshwater, however, oceans are also faced with deadly oil spills, which cause a lot of destruction. All of these things create a dangerous home for these animals that are in dire need of protection.
Here are easy ways for you to help prevent water pollution: Reduce the amount of single-use plastics that you use, the majority of the time they end up floating in our bodies of water around the world. Do not ever dispose of any chemicals in the water, it is imperative not to dump chemicals into our water systems. Reduce the amount of fertilizer that you use on your lawn or in the garden and if possible do not use fertilizer at all. Lastly, remember that there is not an infinite supply of freshwater, so use it wisely, take shorter showers, and conserve water.
The Earth only consists of 3% freshwater, which means that there is not an infinite supply of it, so use it wisely.
Our water is contaminated with plastic waste, garbage, fecal waste, chemicals, pesticides, petroleum, sediment, and heated discharges.
All of these pollutants harm the environment, animals, and people and have had deadly consequences.
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