Water Pollution Facts: What You Need to Know
It’s no secret that our freshwater sources are drowning in chemicals, waste products and contaminants. However, is just knowing this information enough to help save our rivers, reservoirs, lakes, seas, and oceans? Unfortunately, it seems that it is not, as waterways are continually becoming more polluted by the day, with the majority of it stemming from manmade choices. Therefore, in order to prioritize and save our water resources it is essential that we become informed and aware of more than just surface level knowledge. We need to understand just how the current state of our freshwater sources affects our health right now so that we can take proactive measures to ensure our well-being is preserved not only for our own future but for the generations to come.
Facts About Water Pollution
Before diving into the effects water pollution can have on your health, it can be helpful to understand a more in-depth picture about what exactly water pollution is and how widespread it is in current times. To do this, let’s first start with what water pollution really is.
Water pollution is when toxic substances enter water bodies like lakes, oceans, rivers, etc., therefore, degrading the quality of the water and making it toxic to the environment and humans. Because water is a “universal solvent” which readily dissolves more substances than any other liquid on earth it is also extremely vulnerable to pollution. In fact, because 80% of the world’s wastewater is dumped back into freshwater sources, a majority of our freshwater sources are rendered unsafe to use. This widespread problem is threatening our health as unsafe water is the number one killer of humankind each year, trumping that of all acts of war and violence combined. Furthermore, this results in less than 1 percent of the earth’s freshwater actually being accessible to us, with global demands for freshwater only steadily increasing each year. This is obviously a very serious issue we have at hand!
Facts About the Categories of Water Pollution
In order to understand water pollution to the greatest extent and, therefore, learn how to reduce your contribution to the problem, it is important to learn how water gets polluted in the first place. Each of these categories of water pollution play a major role in the quality of our freshwater sources. While there are many more sources of water pollution these are some of the most common ways we are exposed to pollution on a daily basis:
- Groundwater: This one is one of the most well-known sources of water supply, as many of the water choices on the market tend to collect groundwater and decontaminant it for human consumption. In fact, nearly 40% of Americans rely on this type of water as their primary source of drinking water. However, what many people don’t realize is that the more contaminated this source of water gets, the harder it is to get a pure quality of water despite any advanced purification technique utilized. And, unfortunately, groundwater is one of the most easily contaminated sources of water on the planet as it readily absorbs contaminants such as toxic heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, waste products, and pesticides and fertilizers that leach from landfills and septic systems. Once these pollutants contaminant groundwater the water can be rendered unusable for decades or even thousands of years.
- Surface Water: Accounting for nearly 70% of the water on earth, surface water is what fills our oceans, lakes, rivers and any other blue spaces you see on a world map. Furthermore, this is one of the most delivered sources of water, accounting for more than 60% of the water consumption made by Americans every year. Unfortunately, however, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency surface water, like groundwater, is one of the most polluted sources of water available on the planet. In fact, nearly half of our freshwater sources are so contaminated that they are unsafe for swimming, fishing, and drinking. Furthermore, when too many nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus get into a freshwater source, the water can become contaminated. This is called nutrient pollution and it is the leading type of pollution in these water sources.
- Ocean Water: Also called marine pollution, ocean pollution typically originates on land and makes its way into freshwater sources. Ocean pollution often becomes contaminated by oil spills and leaks, as contaminants such as chemicals and heavy metals filtrate the freshwater sources from farms, factories, and cities.
The Facts on the Effects of Water Pollution
Unfortunately, water pollution is a leading cause of death per year. In fact, about 1 billion people become sick from drinking unsafe water each year, with low-income communities often taking the biggest hit as they are often closest to the most polluting industries. However, low-income communities aren’t the only ones that become exposed to life-threatening water-related diseases or death. Even in wealthy nations, like the U.S., accidental or illegal dumps from sewage treatment facilities or runoffs from farms and urban areas contribute to contaminated water. As such, thousands of Americans are sickened each year by diseases like Legionnaires’ disease, a severe type of pneumonia contracted from drinking unsafe water. Even swimming in polluted waters can cause serious health issues, like skin rashes, pinkeye, respiratory infections, and hepatitis. In fact, these types of conditions affect 3.5 million Americans every year. Lastly, consuming water laden with heavy metals can cause a myriad of health concerns like cancer, hormone disruption problems, or altered brain function. Children and pregnant women are most at risk for developing these serious health problems.
How Knowing the Facts Can Prevent Water Pollution
In order to mitigate the chances of you or a loved one from developing any serious health concerns from drinking polluted water it is essential that you take proactive measures to ensure you aren’t contributing to the pollution issue. One of the best ways to do this is to reduce the number of plastic products you use. Since plastic bottles are one of the top ways that freshwater sources become contaminated, switching to water packaged in reusable bottles is one of the most effective ways to preserve our waterways.
Make the switch from plastic to earth-saving aluminum water bottles today. Not only will your body thank you for making the switch but the planet and all of its precious water sources will too.