Water pollution causes and effects

In this article, we will discuss Water pollution causes and effects, but before we dive into the topic proper, let us start by looking at what is water, and water pollution, and then we will discuss Water pollution management, water pollution control measures, and water pollution prevention measures.

What is Water?

Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state. Water also exists in a plasma state near planetary atmospheres.

Most of us know the basics about water. It's vital for life, and good hygiene can help prevent diseases. We also know that maintaining our access to safe water is not a simple matter of turning on the tap or filling up a glass bottle at home.

We have seen charity organizations and NGOs spreading their hands of fellowship in helping support peace and security overseas—in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Northern Nigeria, Sudan and Somalia—and we have seen how critical it is that citizens have access to clean water.

Define Water Pollution

Water pollution is the contamination of water bodies due to human activities. Water can become polluted through direct discharge of pollutants into water bodies, the also indirect discharge of pollutants from land such as erosion and runoff or by atmospheric deposition.

Types of Water Pollution

There are two types of water pollution, these are;

1. Organic pollution

This is caused by microorganisms in the water, such as bacteria and viruses, which are produced by faeces, animal and vegetable waste.

2. Chemical Pollution

Examples includes; Pesticide nitrates and phosphates, human and animal medications, household items, heavy metals, acids, and hydrocarbons used in industries all contribute to chemical pollution.

Water pollution causes and effects

Water pollution is a major concern. It is an important factor in the development of countries, especially developing ones that are not as well equipped to handle water pollution and contamination issues. Water pollution can be caused by many factors which includes;
  • Agriculture
  • Sewage and Wastewater
  • Urbanization and Deforestation
  • Marine dumping
  • Industrial Waste
  • Radioactive waste

Water pollution is a serious problem that leads to many deaths around the world every year. While it used to be mainly caused by human sources, some of these causes are now natural disasters such as hurricanes and tsunamis.

Water pollution is all around us, but it is not always easy to see. This post looks into some of the most common causes of water pollution and what can be done to prevent them.

What are the main causes of water pollution?

Water pollution is one of the biggest issues facing mankind today. People are dying every day from contaminated water, and it's only getting worse. Here are a few statistics on the state of water pollution in the world today.

Water pollution can be caused by both natural and manmade factors. However, anthropogenic causes of water pollution are the most common, including:
  • Agriculture runoff
Fertilizers, pesticides/insecticides/herbicides, and other pollutants or contaminants are carried into water bodies such as lakes, rivers, and ponds by agricultural runoff. The most common result of this sort of pollution is the growth of algae in the impacted water bodies.

This is a sign that the amount of nitrates and phosphates in the water has increased, which could be detrimental to human health.
  • Animal Waste

Animal manure is a source of biological pollution in waterways.
  • Storm water runoff
Storm water runoff carries a variety of oils, petroleum products, and other pollutants from both urban and rural areas (ditches). On the water's surface, these usually leave sheen, that it makes the water to be shiny or reflecting.
  • Leaking sewer piples
Leaking sewer pipes can introduce trihalomethanes (like chloroform) and other toxins into groundwater, affecting surface water as well. Dry-cleaner discharges of chlorinated solvents into sewer lines have also been identified as a source of water contamination and pollution due to these persistent hazardous, toxic and harmful chemicals.

Dry-cleaner discharges of chlorinated solvents into sewer lines have also been identified as a source of water contamination and pollution due to these persistent and toxic chemicals.
  • Mining Activites

Mining activities entail crushing rocks that typically contain several trace metals and sulfides. In the presence of precipitation water, residual material from mining activities can easily produce sulfuric acid.
  • Personal care products and household chemicals

This is a serious issue because releases into water are unpredictable and difficult, if not impossible, to control. It is up to everyone of us to reduce our contribution to water pollution by limiting our use and disposal of such chemical items, as well as recycling as much as possible. Examples of personal care and household products includes; detergents and other cleaning solutions.

Improper disposal of vehicle and other batteries – metals may be added.
  • Industrial waste discharges

Industrial discharges from industrial sites can pollute water bodies significantly, but they are normally regulated today.
  • Deliberate or illegal waste discharges

While such incidents are becoming less prevalent, they may still occur due to the expensive cost of proper waste disposal; unlawful waste discharges into water bodies have been documented all around the world.
  • Burning of Fossil Fuel

The released ash particles from the combustion of fossil fuels generally include hazardous elements (such as Arsenic “As” or Lead “Pb”). Burning emits a number of oxides, including carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere and water bodies, respectively.
  • Accidental leaks and spills

This is caused by improper chemical handling and storage. They can happen at any time, and while they are usually confined quickly, the potential of polluting surface and groundwater remains. Ship disasters like the Exxon Valdez catastrophe, which released massive volumes of petroleum products into the ocean, are an example.
  • Transportation
Despite the fact that Pb is no longer allowed in gasoline in the United States and many other countries, vehicle emissions pollute the air with a variety of tailpipe compounds (such as sulfur and nitrogen compounds, as well as carbon oxides) that can end up in water bodies via precipitation water deposition.
  • Plastic Waste

When plastic waste comes into contact with water, they may slowly decompose, producing toxic compounds that are hazardous to both human health and the environment. In many cases they broke down into nano-plastics which have a negative impact of aquatic ecosystems.
  • Landfills

Leaking landfills may damage the groundwater below the landfill with a vast variety of toxins (whatever is held by the landfill) (whatever is stored by the landfill).
Construction Activities

Construction activities can discharge a variety of toxins into the earth, which could eventually end up in groundwater.

Water pollution control measures

There are a lot of ways to help reduce water pollution, such as staying away from harsh chemicals when cleaning your home or car and recycling products that use water during their production.

Water pollution prevention measures

What is the best way to deal with water pollution? How can pollution of water be avoided? Here's a rundown of water pollution or contamination solutions:

1. Treatment of waste water

The removal of contaminants from wastewater is accomplished using a physical, chemical, or biological technique. The cleaner the water becomes, the more efficient these processes are.

2. Agriculture that is environmentally friendly

Agriculture uses 70% of the world's water, therefore having climate-friendly crops, efficient irrigation that decreases the demand for water, and energy-efficient food production is critical. Green agriculture is also important for limiting the amount of pesticides that end up in the water.

3. Stormwater control

Stormwater management is the endeavor to prevent runoff of precipitation or melted snow into roadways, lawns and other locations and the improvement of water quality” according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (EPA). It is critical to prevent pollutants from contaminating the water, as well as to increase the efficiency with which water is used.

4. Preventing Air pollution

Because seas absorb 25% of human-induced CO2 emissions, air pollution has a direct impact on water contamination. Our seas are rapidly acidifying as a result of this pollution, posing a threat to marine life and corals. Preventing air pollution is the most effective strategy to avoid this.

5. Reduction of plastic waste

Land-based plastic accounts for 80% of the plastic in our oceans. To limit the amount of plastic that enters our ocean, we must cut our global consumption of plastic as well as enhance plastic waste management.

6. Conservation of water

We won't get very far without water conservation. It plays a crucial role in ensuring that the entire world has improved access to clean water. It entails acknowledging that water is a limited resource, caring for it appropriately, and managing it properly.


Water pollution causes and effects is a very serious matter that we all must take into consideration, if we want to continue to live healthy and safely on this Earth. Our use of water should be moderated; disposal of waste generated as a result of our daily activities will play a major role in keeping our water safe.

Many of the rivers in developing countries are contaminated with human waste, chemicals and industrial pollutants. The main cause of water pollution is the lack of proper sanitation facilities in most countries.

Just as the slogan “Water is Life”, it simply means that all life on this earth depend on water for survival. Let’s keep clean.

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