As we all know, water is one of the most essential resources that are naturally available on earth. In fact, the water we drink has existed in some form or another since the beginning of time.
Science proves that the earth's surface is more than two-thirds filled with water. They are distributed in the oceans, rivers, lakes, and streams. To say the quantity of over 1 octillion litres (1,260,000,000,000,000,000,000 litres) of water is spread out is an understatement.
Though that is a lot of water, less than 0.3% is accessible for human consumption. Because industrialization and commercialization have progressed, that number continues to drop. Furthermore, bad practices and a lack of awareness have led to water pollution.
Pollution is generally contamination caused by external sources. In the present scenario, we are well aware that effluents released from industries, agricultural, household, and food wastes dumped in lakes, rivers, oceans, and other water bodies play a major role in water pollution.
The effect of this pollution will adversely affect our future generations, either directly or indirectly, as our lives depend on water bodies in many ways.
One of the key causes of water contamination is toxic chemicals. This changes the pH and increases toxic metals in the water, thereby affecting the living beings in water bodies. In return, upon consumption of these affected water species, humans are exposed to harmful chemicals. Gradually, the toxicity rate in all living beings is increased, which results in a reduction in life span.
A study says approximately 6 billion kilograms of garbage is dumped into the oceans every year. Apart from industrial discharges and untreated waste, many forms of waste materials are dumped into water bodies.
The key sources of water contamination in India are:
- Fertilizer, insecticides, and pesticides are all used in agriculture.
- Industrial effluents and emissions
- Religious Practices
- Urbanization and deforestation
As an example, consider the polluted Ganges River.
For various reasons, the most famous Ganges River is polluted. I have listed a few cases below:
· Cities near the Ganges have polluted the river.
The cities through which the river crosses play a main role in polluting the river. Those densely populated cities discharge nearly 7% of domestic wastes into the Ganges, including laundry, bathing, and public defecation. And 80% of sewage is dumped into the river. In addition, river degradation is caused by open defecation, sand mining, and active fishing. Tons of agricultural fertiliser and pesticides are used near the banks. A lot of human corpses and animal carcasses are released every day into the river. Polluted drains are also directed to the Ganges without proper treatment.
· Polluted by industrial effluents released by
Industries available near the banks of the Ganges include tanneries, distilleries, paper, pulp, and sugar, fertiliser plants, and slaughterhouses. Harmful chemicals such as arsenic, sulphur and mercury are released every day in large amounts. The slaughterhouses and tannery play a key role in dumping pollutants into the river.
· Religious Practices Pollute the Environment
In India, the Ganges is revered as a Goddess, and some religions believe it has magical powers to wash away sins. Due to frequent bathing, the BOD of the water drastically increases. During some festivals, idols of gods and goddesses are melted in the river. Also, cremation happens on the shore, and ashes are immersed in the water after the ceremony. Finally, the river takes a dark grey colour and the quality of the water is awful for bathing (which the religious believers do not believe).
· Tourists visiting India pollute the environment.
There is a gradual increase in travel in India. Thousands of tourists come here for rafting, and thereby the dissolved oxygen (DO) criteria are not balanced. Most of the hotels in the city do not have proper disposal of sewage in place. Since tourist visits are high, a few temples dump wastewater directly into the river.
· Polluted by Ganges River Dams and Canals
Though this sounds odd, canals and dams indirectly play a role in polluting the Ganges. Most of the canal waters are used by the industries for their purposes, and only the waste waters are released in return into those canals, which in turn enter the Ganges. Similarly, dams affect the Ganges as sediments are settled at the banks of the river as the flow of water is held back here, which results in reducing the temperature of the water. It affects marine life's breeding capability, and soil fertility is also affected as heat is lost so easily.
The concentration and types of pollutants help in deciding the effects of water pollution. Also, the level of pollution varies between water bodies.
We can see the discharge of toxic chemicals and garbage dumping by industries in urban areas. Therefore, these bodies of water are extremely polluted.
The environment can be seriously affected, controlled, and spoiled because of water pollution.
People should be aware that chemicals such as "dioxin" cause major problems such as issues in reproduction, feeding cancerous growth and a lot of other diseases. Water pollution significantly affects aquatic life. It eventually leads to death by affecting their metabolism and behaviour. This travels up the food chain as this chemical is accumulated in fish before entering the human body.
Arsenic, magnesium, cadmium, chromium, and lead are some toxic metals released through industrial effluents. These contaminants can continue to disrupt life at greater levels by entering the food chain through animals (fish > animals > humans).
Discarding corpses in water bodies due to religious beliefs or practices also causes a major ill effect on water contamination and results in a threat to aquatic life, which in turn affects human life.
The following control measures can be used to minimise water pollution:
- A few special plants and adsorbents are available on the market. They help to dissolve toxic chemicals such as cadmium, chromium, and lead. Usage of these in regions susceptible to such kinds of contaminants will reduce the harmful effects to a huge extent.
- Sewage waste should be treated before discharging it into water bodies.
- A secondary level of sewage treatment can be done, so the water can be reused in agricultural fields and for sanitary purposes.
- Each individual should be open-minded about reusing, reducing, and recycling wherever feasible to take a step towards overcoming the consequences of water contamination.
The below listed chemical procedures can help a lot in suspending water pollution:
- Reverse osmosis
- The ion exchange process
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