Water Pollution

Water pollution
The dissolved of suspended substances which deteriorate the quality of water and make it unfit for human consumption are called water pollution.

Did You Know?
The adult human body is about 50 to 65 percent water. A child’s body is approximately 75 percent water. The human brain is about 75 percent water.  While the human body can live for weeks without food, it can only survive a few days without water.  220 million urban residents in the developing world lack a source of safe drinking water near their homes.

Did You Know?
Ninety percent of urban sewage in the developing world is discharged into rivers, lakes, and coastal water ways without any treatment.  Agriculture consumes 60 to 80 percent of the fresh water resources in most countries, and as much as 90 percent in others.

Did You Know?

Under the belief that water could dilute any substance, industries and individuals during the 18th and 19th centuries often used rivers and lakes as garbage cans. Industrial effluent, raw sewage and animal carcasses would often be dumped into waterways, without much thought of contamination and downstream neighbors.

Sources of water Pollution
Point source pollution  Non point source pollution  Atmospheric pollution

Point source pollution

These are largely organic materials as wall as sewage materials like human excreta, dung and urine of animals, some dissolved proteins, carbohydrates, fats and a variety of inorganic wastes such as nitrites, nitrates, phosphates, chlorides, sulphates and mineral elements like sodium, potassium etc That can be oxidized by micro-organisms to carbon dioxide and water. When the amount of sewage discharged is relatively small, the river will not become badly polluted. So the biological degradation will soon remove most of the wastes but if not so it makes the water pollute very soon

1. Sewage and other oxygen demanding wastes:

If a question like this--Why sewage and other oxygen demanding wastes are classified as water pollutants?

Answer will be like this---

Because of the following reasons: A. Their degradation leads to oxygen depletion which affects or even kills fish and other aquatic life. B. They produce foul odor and undesired colors. C. They may lead to scam and sludge that render water unfit for recreational use.

2. Biopollutants: Micro-organisms such as algae, fungi, bacteria, viruses, protozoa etc. often reach to water bodies through surface runoff, domestic wastes and sewage. These microbes produce several undesirable and harmful effects in water. Many of them cause diseases in human beings and aquatic animals through contacts. Cholera, typhoid and many skin diseases are transmissible though polluted water.

Non Point source pollution

1. Plant nutrients: Surface runoff from agricultural fields carries nitrogenous and phosphate nutrients that increase the growth of aquatic plants and later undergo decomposition adding to organic loading of the streams. Excess algal growth has been of particular concern since algae lead to depletion of oxygen in water, create problems for municipalities and industries and make water unfit for recreational uses.

2. Exotic organic chemicals: These include surfactants, detergents pesticides, various industrial products, oils and decomposition products of other organic compounds. Good amount of oil along with waste products of industry reaches the sea and rivers. Oil discharged from costal industries is most likely to be responsible for tainting of fishes and sea animals. The most important groups of compounds which are both toxic and persistent are the chlorinated hydrocarbons including organochlorine pesticides such as DDT, Dieldrin, BHC and benzene products

3. Inorganic minerals and chemical compounds: Inorganic chemicals of many types find their way into waters though municipal and industrial wastes and the urban runoff. These pollutants can kill and injure fishes and other aquatic life and they can interfere with the suitability of water for drinking and industrial purposes. Mercury, lead, cadmium and copper are the important metals that cause most concern. Other metals reaching the rivers and sea in substisntial quantities are zinc and chromium. Cyanides, thiocyanates, chromates acids, alkalis organic solvents and several other industrial wastes are causing serious concern to general public.

Atmospheric pollution:
Atmospheric pollution (or air deposition) is another form of non point source pollution; Acid rain is the most well-known form of atmospheric pollution. The major sources of atmospheric pollution include coal-burning energy plants and waste incinerators. The combustion of fossil fuels and waste (such as from hospitals) produces large amounts of mercury in the air

Effects of water pollution
1. Aquatic diseases and deformities: Heavy metals such as mercury and lead, and human-made organic chemicals such as pesticides, biomagnifies as they move up the food chain, resulting in tumors and death for predatory animals, such as lake trout, herring gulls, and even humans. Toxic pollutants can also alter the genetic makeup of an organism, resulting in either death or extreme deformities like large fish tumors and three-legged frogs.

Effects of water pollution
2. Human health issues: Persistant Organic Pollutants (POPs), such as dioxin, PCBs and DDT, are chemical substances that persist in the environment and bioaccumulate through the food web; therefore, POPs can also cause sickness and disease in humans, who are at the end of the food chain. People who regularly consume a lot of fish will have larger levels of toxic chemicals in their bodies than those who only eat fish occasionally. .

While scientists are still studying the effects of high chemical levels in humans, studies have suggested that toxic chemicals can lead to reproductive problems, cancer and neurological disorders Other human health issues related to water pollution include drinking water contamination and skin infection, caused by bacterial contamination.

Effects of heavy metals and pesticides
a. Mercury :
Occurs naturally in the sea as the result of weathering of mercury bearing rocks. It is also present in fossil fuels, coal and oils and reaches the sea by serial transport. It is highly persistent and said to be converted into a highly toxic mono methyl mercury MeHg (methyl mercury) and dimethyl mercury which produce nervous disorders in marine animals at an ordinarily low level of dietary intake. Normal level of Hg in fish probably ranges between 0.02 to 0.2 ppm. In situations exposed to industrial discharges containing Hg wastes in Japan, Sweden and North America, Hg levels above 1.0 ppm have been found.

Effect of Hg:
Monomethylmercury causes damage to the brain and the central nervous system, while foetal and postnatal exposure have given rise to abortion, congenital malformation and development changes in young children. Consumption of Hg contaminated fishes may be hazardous to man. Human beings feeding on such poisoned animals develop a genetic deformity called minamuta disease. Mercury inhibits chromosomal disjunction during gamete formation and brings about genetic changes (Ramel, 1974).

b. Lead:
Lead is the natural pollutant of water, air and biosphere. Lead is accumulating in the marine environment as a result of drainage from rocks bearing this metal, industrial and domestic sources particularly the use of anti-knock motor fuels containing lead compounds. It has been calculated that motor vehicle exhausts contribute up to 2X105 tones of lead annually to the ocean through atmospheric transport. Much of this accumulated in the surface layer of sediments.

One study based on geochemical relationships and material balances suggest that modern man absorbs daily 20 mg lead from food, 1 microgram lead from water and 10 microgram lead form urban air. Average daily lead intake for adults in the UK is estimated at 1.6µg from air, 20µg from drinking water and 28µg from food.

Effect of Lead: Hickey et al.(1971) said that lead has mutagenic effects and it may cause congenital deformities. It disturbs metabolism through its effect in enzymes. Symptoms of lead poisoning include loss of appetite, appearance of bluish lines round the gums, anemia etc.

c. Effect of Pesticides
In terms of general human health effects, pesticides can ...
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affect and damage the nervous system; cause liver damage; damage DNA and cause a variety of cancers; cause reproductive and endocrine damage; cause other acutely toxic or chronic effects

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