Guide to Water Pollution


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Everyone knows how important water is for people to live on the planet. Sadly, even though most of the Earth is covered in water much of it is already unusable because of pollution due to human activity. Water is considered polluted if it's contaminated to a point where it is unfit for use. If water is polluted you can't drink it, swim in it, and the wildlife that depends on it also becomes endangered. It is important to understand how water gets polluted and to know the simple steps which you can take to decrease water pollution.

Different Types of Water
Before understanding the different kinds of water pollution problems it's a good idea to know what types of water exist on our plant. The majority of the Earth's water is in ocean waters which is the salt water in the oceans and seas. The second type of water is fresh surface water which includes all the water in rivers, streams, ponds, and most of the lakes. Even the world's ice caps fall under this category. Groundwater exists beneath the surface and supplies springs and wells with water. Water that enters this area stays there for an average of 1,400 years.

Causes of Water Pollution
There are so many different types of causes of water pollution that it can be difficult to categorize them all. Below are a number of the more common causes that create this terrible problem.

Sewage and Waste Water: Houses, factories, and farms all create waste water and sewerage that contaminates the water sources. Untreated water can cause serious health issues for the people who drink this water.

Dumping Waste into the Sea: Items which take a long time to degrade such as plastic, Styrofoam, metal, glass and other items become a danger to the wildlife. Dolphins, turtles, and birds all suffer greatly from this kind of pollution.

Radioactive Pollution: Nuclear waste comes from nuclear power stations, mining of certain metals such as uranium, and waste from nuclear fuels. This kind of pollution causes long term negative effects in the land, air and animals, eventually causing problems for humans.

Industrial Waste: Industrial waste comes from the untreated dumping of factories. This kind of pollution causes serious health issues for both the environment and humans in the area.

Oil Spills: Oil pollution comes from oil spills from tankers, rigs, and dumping. In most cases, oil spills are absolutely catastrophic to the environment with extremely long term effects.

The Water Pollution Guide: Useful information about the sources of water pollution and how to treat them
Water Pollution: The different types of water pollution caused by farming, businesses, and homes
Pollution: All about pollution including water, land and air
The Water and Me Series: (.pdf file) All about what water pollution is
Exploring the Environment: Water pollution - an overview with information on acid mine drainage, agriculture, sewage and dredging.
Typical Sources of Drinking Water Contamination: Detailed information on the different types of water pollution

How to Determine Water Quality
There are a number of factors which determine the quality of water including the quantity of contaminants, physical and chemical factors such as pH and conductivity, the number of salts present and the different nutrients present. Governments set standards based on these factors which determine whether water is drinkable or not. To measure water quality, scientists put the water through a number of tests to check for mineral content and to see if any harmful bacteria are present. These factors are often not visible to the naked eye, thus tests must be used.

How Do We Measure the Quality of Waters: Explanations on what tools and procedures scientists use to measure the quality of water
Water for Kids: Multiple sites on water resources for kids
Free Drinking Water: Learning about water quality with more resources such as factsheets, top water news, pH value and more.

Water Pollution Facts
Approximately 80% of the pollution in the seas and oceans comes from human activities on land.
Almost 50% of the world is affected by polluted water for drinking.
About 20% of the world's population does not have access to safe water.
Rainwater which flows to streams, lakes and rivers is actually polluted. This is because when if flows over the ground and into the drainage system, it picks up anything on the ground including garbage, oil, detergent, paint and other waste material.

Plastic garbage kills up to 100,000 marine mammals, 1 million seabirds and immeasurable amounts of fish in the coastal areas.
Diseases caused by contaminated water include cholera, typhoid, dysentery and other diarrheal diseases.
Asian rivers are the most contaminated in the world. They contain 20 times more lead as compared to the water found in industrialized countries in other continents. Human waste bacteria in these rivers are 3 times more than the global average.
In the US, 40% of the rivers and 46% of the lakes are polluted. They cannot be used for drinking, swimming or any other recreational activities.

What You Can Do to Prevent Water Pollution
As always, the first steps to solving any major problem can be taken right at home. Below are a few steps that everyone can take to help ease the water pollution problem the world is facing.
Don't dump liquid waste into drains. Dispose of it as directed on its packaging.
Use a car wash instead of washing the car at home. This will prevent dirt and soap from entering the drains which will eventually end up in the streams and oceans.
If you see the family car leaking oil, tell your parents right away.
Save water by turning off taps when the water isn't needed. This will reduce the amount of polluted water that needs to be cleaned up.
Dispose of trash in the proper way. Place recyclable items in their proper bins. Make sure not to flush non-degradable items such as diapers and dental floss in the toilet.

Become involved when your parents buy pesticides and fertilizers. Tell them to buy natural fertilizers.
If you have a dog, make sure to use a pooper scooper. This will prevent the waste from going into the drainage system and affecting the water in your area.
Plant more flowers and greens in your garden. This will prevent fertilizers, pesticides, and contaminated water from running into the streets and down the drains.

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