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What are the effects of water pollution?

Some people believe pollution is an inescapable result of human activity: they


argue that if we want to have factories, cities, ships, cars, oil, and coastal
resorts, some degree of pollution is almost certain to result. In other words,
pollution is a necessary evil that people must put up with if they want to make
progress. Fortunately, not everyone agrees with this view. One reason people
have woken up to the problem of pollution is that it brings costs of its own that
undermine any economic benefits that come about by polluting.
Take oil spills, for example. They can happen if tankers are too poorly built to
survive accidents at sea. But the economic benefit of compromising on tanker
quality brings an economic cost when an oil spill occurs. The oil can wash up
on nearby beaches, devastate the ecosystem, and severely affect tourism.
The main problem is that the people who bear the cost of the spill (typically a
small coastal community) are not the people who caused the problem in the
first place (the people who operate the tanker). Yet, arguably, everyone who
puts gasoline (petrol) into their caror uses almost any kind of petroleumfueled transportcontributes to the problem in some way. So oil spills are a
problem for everyone, not just people who live by the coast and tanker
operates.
Sewage is another good example of how pollution can affect us all. Sewage
discharged into coastal waters can wash up on beaches and cause a health
hazard. People who bathe or surf in the water can fall ill if they swallow
polluted wateryet sewage can have other harmful effects too: it can poison
shellfish (such as cockles and mussels) that grow near the shore. People who
eat poisoned shellfish risk suffering from an acuteand sometimes fatal
illness called paralytic shellfish poisoning. Shellfish is no longer caught along
many shores because it is simply too polluted with sewage or toxic chemical
wastes that have discharged from the land nearby.

Pollution matters because it harms the environment on which people depend.


The environment is not something distant and separate from our lives. It's not
a pretty shoreline hundreds of miles from our homes or a wilderness
landscape that we see only on TV. The environment is everything that
surrounds us that gives us life and health. Destroying the environment
ultimately reduces the quality of our own livesand that, most selfishly, is why
pollution should matter to all of us.

How can we stop water pollution?


There is no easy way to solve water pollution; if there were, it wouldn't be so
much of a problem. Broadly speaking, there are three different things that can
help to tackle the problemeducation, laws, and economicsand they work
together as a team.
Education
Making people aware of the problem is the first step to solving it. In the early
1990s, when surfers in Britain grew tired of catching illnesses from water
polluted with sewage, they formed a group called Surfers Against Sewage to
force governments and water companies to clean up their act. People who've
grown tired of walking the world's polluted beaches often band together to
organize community beach-cleaning sessions. Anglers who no longer catch
so many fish have campaigned for tougher penalties against factories that
pour pollution into our rivers. Greater public awareness can make a positive
difference.
Laws
One of the biggest problems with water pollution is its transboundary nature.
Many rivers cross countries, while seas span whole continents. Pollution
discharged by factories in one country with poor environmental standards can
cause problems in neighboring nations, even when they have tougher laws
and higher standards. Environmental laws can make it tougher for people to

pollute, but to be really effective they have to operate across national and
international borders. This is why we have international laws governing the
oceans, such as the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (signed by
over 120 nations), the 1972 London (Dumping) Convention, the
1978 MARPOL International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from
Ships, and the 1998 OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine
Environment of the North East Atlantic. The European Union has waterprotection laws (known as directives) that apply to all of its member states.
They include the 1976 Bathing Water Directive (updated 2006), which seeks to
ensure the quality of the waters that people use for recreation. Most countries
also have their own water pollution laws. In the United States, for example,
there is the 1972 Clean Water Act and the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act.
Economics
Most environmental experts agree that the best way to tackle pollution is
through something called the polluter pays principle. This means that
whoever causes pollution should have to pay to clean it up, one way or
another. Polluter pays can operate in all kinds of ways. It could mean that
tanker owners should have to take out insurance that covers the cost of oil
spill cleanups, for example. It could also mean that shoppers should have to
pay for their plastic grocery bags, as is now common in Ireland, to
encourage recycling and minimize waste. Or it could mean that factories that
use rivers must have their water inlet pipes downstream of their effluent
outflow pipes, so if they cause pollution they themselves are the first people to
suffer. Ultimately, the polluter pays principle is designed to deter people from
polluting by making it less expensive for them to behave in an environmentally
responsible way.

Our clean future


Life is ultimately about choicesand so is pollution. We can live with sewagestrewn beaches, dead rivers, and fish that are too poisonous to eat. Or we can
work together to keep the environment clean so the plants, animals, and

people who depend on it remain healthy. We can take individual action to help
reduce water pollution, for example, by using environmentally
friendly detergents, not pouring oil down drains, reducing pesticides, and so
on. We can take community action too, by helping out on beach cleans or litter
picks to keep our rivers and seas that little bit cleaner. And we can take action
as countries and continents to pass laws that will make pollution harder and
the world less polluted. Working together, we can make pollution less of a
problemand the world a better place.

That Water is Unsafe to Drink


n this Survival Topic we will discuss why it is important that you consider ALL sources of drinking
water as contaminated with disease causing organisms until you properly treat it. We will also
touch upon the best method to make water safe to drink. Water Born Disease Organisms I want
to hammer home to you the importance of always always always (did I say always?) treating
any water before you use it for anything you will ingest into your body.
Water Born Disease Organisms
I want to hammer home to you the importance of always always always (did I say always?)
treating any water before you use it for anything you will ingest into your body. In short, before
you use water for any purpose that ends up in your body including Drinking water. Oral hygiene
such as rinsing your mouth or brushing your teeth. Cleaning of vegetables and other foods.
Cleaning of cooking and eating utensils. Douching and enemas if you are into such things best
left unsaid.
The water must first be de-contaminated so that all water borne pathogens are destroyed or
rendered inert. Otherwise you may become very sick indeed.
Contaminated Water
One of the most basic concepts you must completely understand in order to stay healthy in
wilderness survival situations is that all sources of water are suspect. Urban dwellers that we
tend to be, we are usually accustomed to simply turning on the tap and drinking the water that

comes from it. It is important to note that tap water usually comes from protected sources and
has been treated by municipal agencies to destroy disease causing organisms. This water is
also frequently tested in order to insure it meets standards for potablility. In more rural areas tap
water often comes from wells and springs where natural processes have purified the water.
Because we usually obtain our water so easily from the tap, the mindset to always consider
water from untested sources as contaminated can be difficult to fully accept. Old habits die hard
and many of you will be tempted to ignore my advice and drink any outdoor water source that
appears to be fresh and clean. But I want you to drop any preconceived notion you many have
on this subject and trust Survival Topics completely when it comes to treating your water. It
could very well save your life. Too many times to count people have told me that a certain
stream or lake is safe to drink because it is clear, cold, and natural. I have some important
information that could very well prevent you from becoming very sick: That crystal clear
mountain stream may seem clean enough to the eye, but invisible microorganisms are thriving
in its waters by the millions. Most of the tiny living things in water are harmless to humans, but
all too often there are types that can make you very sick should you ingest them.
You Are Likely Drinking Feces
Many disease organisms contaminate water sources due to improper disposal of human wastes
including feces. Another common natural source of water contamination comes from the local
wildlife that often defecate in or near the water. Birds and mammals that live in or near water
think nothing of releasing their bodily wastes into it. But worse, many ignorant humans will
improperly dispose of urine, feces, and kitchen wastes close to communal water supplies. No
matter how remote you feel you are, I guarantee someone has been there before you. They
may be swimming, washing up, or even have deposited a steaming pile of feces just upstream
minutes before you filled your water container. On a number of occasions while at established
campsites I have visited the only available water supply, often a natural spring, only to find that
someone had washed their dishes in it! Were it not for the odd bits of food items floating in the
other wise clear water I may never had known ignorant humans had been there before me. If
these people are dumb enough to wash filthy dishes in the only available water supply, who
knows what else they may have done nearby. If I were less informed about the hazards of
untested water I may have drank that water without treating it and become very sick. Humans
are veritible poop machines and wherever they have been you can be assured there is plenty of
feces laying about. Historically, wastes and human fecal contamination of water supplies has
resulted in large epidemics of cholera and other diseases that have ended the lives of millions.
Do not let the actions of dumb people take you down: treat all water before you ingest it.
Disease Organisms Would Like You to Drink Them Water can contain a range of nasty
organisms you would do well to avoid. These include bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E. Coli)
Salmonella
How to Make Water Safe to Drink
Now that I have convinced you to consider all sources of water as contaminated until treated, I
would like to suggest the best way to make water safe to drink. Once again I am sure to be
stirring up a hornets nest of dissent on this subject but I stand by what I write as proven beyond

doubt. Try to release any preconceived notions you may have as you read what follows. The
miracle of modern advertising would have you believe that the portable water filters on the
market today will remove nearly all pathogens and disease causing organisms from water.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is, studies have conclusively shown water filters
vary a great deal in the types and amount of organisms they are able to filter. And that is when
the water filters are functioning properly and users correctly operate and maintain them. A tall
order indeed, especially in the field during adverse conditions. Would you drink water from a
filter that is removing only 85% of water borne disease organisms? Chances are the water filter
you use isnt even doing that well. Various chemicals used to treat water also lack the ability to
destroy 100% of disease causing organisms in water. The reasons for this are beyond the
scope of this article and will be covered in a future Survival Topic. The manufacturers of
chemicals and water filters dont want you to know what the best way to make water safe to
drink really is. Thats because its simple, inexpensive to operate, and they cannot sell it. The
fact is, the best way to make water safe for consumption will destroy or render inert 100% of
disease causing organisms. Whats more, this process is readily available and nearly foolproof.
It has been successfully used for centuries and remains hands down the best method of all:
boiling. How Long Does the Water Need to Boil? Water does do not even have to reach the
boiling point (about 212 F or 100 C at sea level) to be rendered safe to drink; Once the water
temperature reaches 185 F (85 C) nearly all disease causing organisms have been destroyed.
The only reason you typically get water up to the boiling point is you probably do not have a
thermometer handy to measure the water temperature. Boiling is proof positive the water is hot
enough to make it safe to drink. You can also throw out the myth that you must boil water longer
at higher elevations. The boiling point of water even on Mount Everest is still high enough to
destroy all disease causing organisms even before the water has started to boil. For more
information on boiling water to make it safe to drink read the breakthrough Survival Topic How
Long Do you Need to Boil Water?. In conclusion: Consider water from any source as
contaminated with disease causing organisms. By far the best way to treat water is by boiling it.
You only have to bring the water to a boil. Dont waste fuel; there is no need to boil water for 10minutes, 5-minutes, or even 1-minute. Once it is boiling all disease causing organisms have
been destroyed or rendered inert some time earlier. Even on Mount Everest, the highest point
on earth, once water reaches the boiling point it is safe to drink.
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