July 7, 2007 6:53am CST
What are the causes for the pollution of water
16 Jul 07
Water pollution is a large set of adverse effects upon water bodies such as lakes, rivers, oceans, and groundwater caused by human activities. Although natural phenomena such as volcanoes, algae blooms, storms, and earthquakes also cause major changes in water quality and the ecological status of water, these are not deemed to be pollution. Water is only called polluted when it is not able to be used for what one wants it to be used for. Water pollution has many causes and characteristics. Increases in nutrient loading may lead to eutrophication. Organic wastes such as sewage impose high oxygen demands on the receiving water leading to oxygen depletion with potentially severe impacts on the whole eco-system. Industries discharge a variety of pollutants in their wastewater including heavy metals, organic toxins, oils, nutrients, and solids. Discharges can also have thermal effects, especially those from power stations, and these too reduce the available oxygen. Silt-bearing runoff from many activities including construction sites, deforestation and agriculture can inhibit the penetration of sunlight through the water column, restricting photosynthesis and causing blanketing of the lake or river bed, in turn damaging ecological systems. Pollutants in water include a wide spectrum of chemicals, pathogens, and physical chemistry or sensory changes. Many of the chemical substances are toxic. Pathogens can obviously produce waterborne diseases in either human or animal hosts. Alteration of water's physical chemistry include acidity, conductivity, temperature, and eutrophication. Eutrophication is the fertilisation of surface water by nutrients that were previously scarce. Even many of the municipal water supplies in developed countries can present health risks. Water pollution is a major problem in the global context. It has been suggested that it is the leading worldwide cause of deaths and diseases.