UN estimates that around two billion people are exposed worldwide to unclean drinking water. This has serious consequences for their health, leading to the spread of many waterborne diseases and premature deaths among the most vulnerable populations. But humans are not the only ones negatively affected. Here’s a closer look at some of the more prevalent water pollution effects on the environment as a whole.
An excess of nutrients can leach into water sources through agricultural run-off and cause a severe imbalance in delicate ecosystems. The most damaging effect of this is called eutrophication. This is when excess levels of ammonia, phosphate, and other nutrients are allowed to leach into water sources from agricultural run-off. These blooms block sunlight and absorb all oxygen from the environment, thereby reducing the ability of other aquatic organisms to survive.
The human race’s obsession with plastic contributes to a terrible problem in our seas and oceans, where much plastic waste ends up. Indeed, it’s estimated that there are over five trillion tonnes of the stuff in bodies of water worldwide, with many of these breaking down into smaller microplastics over time. This rubbish can be ingested by marine animals, who can mistake it for food. Plastic can also cause damage to their internal organs.
Heavy metals, chemicals, and other toxic substances can end up in waterways and are absorbed by the animals and plants that live there. Even though the concentrations may seem small, these elements can persist in organic material for many years. They are then assimilated by predators into their bodies after the host has been consumed. This is how they make their way up the food chains, eventually compromising the health and possibly even reaching our dinner plates.
Water pollution can be invisible to the naked eye. It’s thought that our seas and oceans can absorb as much as a quarter of the carbon emitted into the air, thus leading to decreased pH levels in the water. This type of disruption to the chemical balance of the ecosystem can interfere with some animals’ navigation and self-defence systems, as well as impact negatively upon their ability to grow and repair their bodies. Acidification is also a major cause of coral bleaching.
Loss of entire species
Water pollution can lead to the destruction of entire species. As a result of the way that they function and their body composition, certain organisms are more at risk than others. This has been proven by laboratory experiments. Water pollution can lead to animal death if it interferes with its reproductive systems or habits, or makes it less able to deal with other environmental stressors.
The next webinar will provide more information about water pollution. Exhibition Water, Wastewater and Environmental MonitoringIt promises to be a valuable source of information. The 12th of December will be held in Telford, UK.Th13ThThe October 2022 exhibition will include all angles of the subject.