Water pollution, its main causes and effects on humans and the environment


Although the effects of water pollution extend to various aspects of human health, economic and social life, pollution rates continue to rise.

Famous wisdom says, “Do not spit in the well, you may drink from it one day.” However, humans still spit into the well they drink from, and water pollution remains one of the most serious environmental threats the world faces today.

What is meant by water pollution?

There is no comprehensive definition of water pollution, but one of the famous definitions sees that polluted water in general is water whose composition has been changed to an extent that makes it unsuitable for some or all of its uses. That is, it cannot be drunk or used for essential purposes such as agriculture, or even to support the survival of aquatic ecosystems.

The main sources of water pollution

1- Untreated wastewater:

It includes liquid waste that is discharged from residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural complexes into water streams without treatment. More than 80% of sewage water in the world flows back into the environment without treatment or reuse, and in some least developed countries, the figure exceeds 95% According to United Nations estimates.

2- Agricultural pollutants:

Agricultural operations such as the use of pesticides and fertilizers, the disposal of sheep manure and the cultivation of the land can cause water pollution, and many of these materials contain nitrogen and phosphorous, and if carried into lakes and streams through rain runoff, they can lead to increased growth Algae, water poisoning and other environmental problems

3- Oil pollution:

Several prominent oil spills occurred in history, the most important of which was the stranding of the oil tanker “Exxon Valdez” off the coast of Alaska in 1989, which led to the spillage of about 34,000 tons of oil in the Gulf of Alaska. And the oil spill that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, which spilled at least 450,000 tons of oil into the Gulf waters, making it the largest accidental oil spill in history.
In addition, nearly half a million tons of oil makes its way into marine environments each year from land-based sources such as factories and farms. The release of these large quantities of oil into sea waters has caused massive losses and destroyed marine life and ecosystems in those areas

4- Radioactive waste:

Radioactive material is used in nuclear power plants and other industrial, medical and scientific processes, and can also be found in luminous clocks, televisions, and X-ray equipment. If these materials are not disposed of properly, radioactive waste causes serious water pollution accidents.

5- Disposal of waste in rivers:

Illegal disposal of industrial and household waste is a huge environmental problem, especially in developing and underdeveloped countries.
This waste can destroy or degrade important fish habitats and cause erosion of river coasts and beaches.

6- Disposing of waste in the seas and oceans:

Of all the types of activities that pollute the ocean, dumping trash and other waste ranks first on the list. The Canadian Safe Drinking Water Foundation (SDWF) notes that the flow of waste into the oceans contributes to algal blooms and clogs waterways, which in turn causes the death of seagrass meadows and entire ecosystems.


Effects of water pollution on humans

From a health point of view, contaminated water is associated with the transmission of many serious diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis or typhoid and polio. An Arab environmental study, published in the Journal of Advanced Research, indicates that water-borne diseases are responsible for more than two million deaths and four billion cases of diarrhea worldwide annually, making water pollution one of the main causes of death and disease.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 220 million people, in 2017 alone, required preventive treatment for schistosomiasis, an acute and chronic disease caused by parasitic worms transmitted through contaminated water.


Water pollution damages not only surface fresh water, but pollutants also seep into groundwater, which may reach our homes as polluted water that we use in our daily activities. The American non-profit organization “Natural Resources Defense Council” (NRDC) states that nearly 40% of Americans depend on groundwater pumped to the surface of the earth as a source of drinking.

Groundwater pollution raises a complex problem. Due to the difficulty and high cost of removing pollutants.
Once an aquifer is polluted, it may become unusable for decades or even thousands of years, and it can also spread the pollution away as it seeps into streams, lakes and oceans.

The same applies to salt water bodies. According to a report published by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 80% of the pollution of the marine environment in the oceans comes from land. Sources of this pollution include septic tanks, cars, trucks, boats and farm waste, which often make their way into the seas.



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