What is Water Pollution?
Water Pollution is defined as the changes in physical, chemical, or biological characteristics of water that cause harmful effects on humans as well as aquatic species. Sometimes some unwanted substances are added to water that is not suitable for the bodies that make use of such water.
This simply means that water pollution indicates adverse variation in the composition of water that hinders its suitability for the purpose for which it is used in the unpolluted form.
One can define pollution numerously. Before detailing about water pollution, we must know –
What is Pollution?
Pollution or environmental pollution corresponds to the presence of contaminants in the environment in the form of solid, liquid, or gas. Pollution makes the environment dirty. The elements that cause pollution are known as pollutants.
It is not always necessary that pollutants are heavy or any specific entity as pollutants can be simple things such as light, a sound that become part of the environment artificially. Pollution is a major concern of today’s world and so proper attention must be given to deal with it.
Majorly pollution is categorized as:
- Air Pollution
- Water Pollution
- Land Pollution
Pollution always put a negative impact on the environment and it may lead to cause severe damage to human health and wildlife.
Sometimes people use the word pollution and waste interchangeably. But is not correct in actuality. This is so because waste causes pollution but waste is not pollution. Any waste is generated residual disposable item from a useful element; however, pollution is regarded as harmful waste.
Basics of Water Pollution
Water is regarded as an extremely important entity for the survival of plants and living organisms. Thus, it is not wrong to say that the quality of water is associated with life on earth.
When drinking water gets polluted that this leads to cause various waterborne diseases that can hinder life to great extent. Now one of the questions is what is the cause of water pollution?
Firstly, the cause i.e., processes can be of two types namely, Natural or Anthropogenic.
Natural processes include the waste generated from domestic chores in rural and urban regions that are discharged into water bodies that are a natural source of water. The presence of organic waste in water disturbs its chemical characteristics along with affecting color, odour, and biological properties. Anthropogenic processes include industrial, agricultural, radioactive activities as it adds pesticides and fertilizers to the water.
Parameters on which polluted water is judged:
- Presence of oil or grease on water surfaces.
- Experience a change in the taste of water.
- The unpleasant smell of water.
- Slow or negligible growth of aquatic plants.
- Reduction in the quality of animals that survive inside water.
Various water bodies like oceans, ponds, lakes, rivers are subjected to dynamic state change according to geological age and geochemical characteristics.
Hence for water, it is generally said that the water that gets discharged into the hydrosphere must be free from toxicity, it should not have an excessive amount of organic matter, and must be nutrient-free. Although this is not considered to be true for water used for the purpose of land irrigation.
We have already discussed that water pollutants correspond to the entities the existence of which pollutes the water. There is a classification of water pollutants and this classification is based on the physio-chemical properties of the impurities.
1. Organic pollutants: This category belongs to oxygen demanding wastes, agents that cause disease, oil, synthetic organic compounds, plant nutrients, etc. For proper maintenance of aquatic life, water must contain an adequate level of dissolved oxygen i.e., between 4 to 6 ppm. Thus, if this value reduces then this shows that the water has reduced concentration of dissolved oxygen which is not suitable for aquatic bodies and the reason for this organic matter.
2. Sediment: It is known to be a physical pollutant, that is basically loose sand, clay, or soil particles that runoff water carries from any site. The presence of sediments in water leads to a high risk to the quality of water and is generally a result of soil erosion.
3. Radioactive Pollutants: These include the residues which are the result of mining or processing of ores, in nuclear weapons and power plants formation, along with medical, industrial, or research-related applications. The pollutants generated from nuclear power plants are liquid and gas wastes from fuel elements, radioactive liquid waste, fission products, heat, etc.
4. Thermal Pollutants: These are the group of pollutants generated from coal-fired or nuclear fuel-fired steam power plants. In such cases, only some amount of heat is used for actual purposes while the rest gets wasted.
In the upcoming content, we will discuss types of water pollution.