Water is considered one of the most important world resources and is essential to all forms of life. Water covers over 70% of the earth’s surface and is crucial for both the environment and the human population. Although water covers over 70% of the earths surface, 40% of the rivers are too polluted to either swim or fish in, and even worse 46% of the lakes are too polluted for both swimming and fishing. Many things on this earth are dependent on a clean water source, yet its not always easy to come by because water can be polluted in many different fashions. Its not only small bodies of water that are at risk of pollution, large bodies such as Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.
Water pollution can take many forms, it can be both natural and unnatural. Biological water pollution is an example where some virus and bacteria are in the water. When dealing with biological water pollution direct contact such as swimming, washing clothes, or drinking can lead to very serious and contagious disease such as Cholera and Typhoid. In class we discussed how many things can lead to the contamination of water. We read through Down to Earth: Nature’s Role in America History, Ted Steinberg and he talks about the “flush and forget “ and how people would use feces would be used as fertilizer but some of it would go into rivers and lakes and contaminate the water (chapter 10). Sternberg also talks about how flooding washes away animal excrement that leads to water contamination and illness (Steinberg 12) . Which back in early days when the nations were still over much less developed than we are now, they did not have purification and treatment systems for their water as we do today.
The type of water pollution most familiar with people is called chemical water pollution. Chemical water pollution is caused by the addition of unwanted chemicals to the water brought on by the accidental spillage of substances into the water. An example of this would be waste from a factory, or pesticides running off fields into water supplies. Chemicals in water are poisonous and harmful to wildlife as well as making the water too polluted to drink. The pollution of water by oil also falls under chemical pollution. This pollution holds heavy side effects on the environment and wildlife because of all the oil covered birds and dying wildlife that create new and lasting effects on the environment.
Water Pollution can lead to many things but two of the majors concepts are the effects of water pollution of human health, and the effects of water pollution dealing with overall ecological risk’s. The concept of water pollution and human health can be broken up into a variety of subcategories, for instance contamination of drinking water can induce health risks from pollution that vary from area to area, orally ingesting bacteria or disease can lead to serious illness and disease.
Another issue facing the world today is the level of mercury in the oceans. Inorganic mercury is the result of a number of industrial processes. The level of mercury in fish is mostly dangerous only for small children and women who might become pregnant, are pregnant or are nursing. Mercury is linked to interfere with the development of the central nervous system in fetuses and young children, which could lead to a large amount of long-term side effects.
Also the health effects of toxic runoffs, this problem is when floods and dumping lead everything into a body of water that pollutes it, a reoccurring event for the people in Louisiana because many states along the Mississippi river dumps toxins into it that pour out into Louisiana. This is believed to cause the high level of cancer in that area, people fishing and eating their catch from the polluted water.
The ecological factors of pollution consist of things such as Algal blooms. These blooms create enormous depletion in fish population because as the oxygen in the water drops and the fish suffocate. Fish can also be killed when excessive algae get caught in their gills. Which is not good because as we learned from Steinberg that “people were more dependent than every on fish” (Steinberg 4) and with the loss of fishing holes and use of rivers because of major logging going on that would change the lives of people who would rely on fish for food. These pollutants sometimes lead to what is known as an “Ecological Dead Zone ” where the habitat changes enough to force the fish out creating a vacant body of polluted water.
For more information about Water Pollution, refer to the following source-
Ted Steinberg, “America in Black and Green” in Down to Earth: Nature’s Role in American History, Second edition (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).
“Water Pollution Facts.” Water Pollution Facts. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2015.
“Effects of Water Pollution.” <i>LoveToKnow</i>. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2015.
“Types of Water Pollution.” <i>LoveToKnow</i>. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2015.