Causes of Water Pollution

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Water pollution generally refers to contamination of water bodies like the seas, oceans, aquifers and groundwater such that the water becomes unsafe for use or support the aquatic life. Though the earth is 70% covered by water only 0.00192% of the water is safe and available for human consumption. Pollution of water affects drinking water and water bodies all over the world. The pollution may be due to several sources like the disposal of raw and untreated discharges from industries, the emission of gases in the air where the water falls as acid rain. This article is going to discuss in great detail three causes of water which are fertilizers and pesticides from farms, leaking pipes from oil wells in the oceans and improper disposal of household items and from businesses (Edward, 2008).

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The first pollutant is fertilizers and pesticides from farms. The chemicals are important in increasing production but the excessive amount of these chemicals is washed off to the streams and cause pollution. Fertilizers contain nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen. The two nutrients are very soluble in water and when it rains they are washed in to rivers and other water bodies. When the nutrients are in the water they encourage massive growth of algae that use oxygen in the water and the low levels of the gas leads the death of fish (Chauhan, 2008). On the other hand, pesticides are intended to kill harmful pests that destroy crops and reduce yield. There are four major ways in which fertilizers and pesticides reach the water: drifting from the intended area during spraying, they may percolate through the soil or they may be spilled through neglect or accidentally. According to Agaward, 2005, inappropriate and excessive use of pesticides may cause the washing off of the chemicals to the waters. When they enter the streams, they endanger aquatic life like fish. Consumption of pesticides kills life since they are poisonous.

The second pollutant is the leaking pipes from oil wells in the oceans. Oil drilling that takes place in the oceans and the shores may cause pollution of water since if the pipes transporting oil bursts or leaks. An example of water pollution from this cause is the Deep Horizon oil spill or the BP oil disaster which started on 20th April 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico following the explosion of and sinking of the deep water oil rig. A sea floor oil gusher flowed for 87 days. This well in the ocean during that tragic spill released approximately 210 million gallons of oil. The oil spills in the water bodies cut off oxygen supply from the atmosphere and the lack of oxygen is devastating to aquatic life. Oil also prevents sunlight from getting into the water. Plants in the water therefore, do not photosynthesize and the water animals that depend on aquatic plants for survival die in large numbers. According to Goel, 2006, there was record deaths of fish along that shore especially the young dolphins. Birds wings are also clogged by the oil and the y are unable to fly and therefore die of starvation along the shores. The water under these spills is very inhabitable and it cannot be used for industrial and domestic purposes. The water that is so contaminated is dangerous for even humans since its consumption may cause diseases.

Improper disposal of household items and from business is the third cause of water pollution. The plastics, and detergents trigger pollution in the water. The contents of these items may be harmful to the water in which they are disposed. Empty chemical bottles may still contain negligible amounts of the chemical and they become very harmful once they land in the water. The business effluents like untreated chemical contaminate the water. Edward, (2008) says that negligence and carefree attitude in how people dispose their waste from homes and industries are the two major causes of pollution in the water. He says that some people have turned water bodies into pits in that they throw every form of waste into the nearby water body.

The sea shores are full of alcohol and chemical bottles from homes which endanger the life in the water. Besides taking up the space of the water life, the wastes actually threaten the fish and plants that survive in water. Old and used batteries ate thrown in to the water. According to Chauhan, (2008), the sulphuric acid in the batteries usually become a great inhibition to normal activity in the waters since the pH of the water goes down than it should and this affects the life underneath the waters. Most business wastes contain mercury and lead metal that are dangerous when disposed in to the water. Old fluorescent lamps when broken also release mercury. Paints also are a biological threat when thrown in to the water. Most paints are made from toxic reagents that are very harmful when they come into contact with water. Others dissolve in the water permanently and in this way change the original composition of water. Continued disposal of these paints increase the concentration of the reagents and have adverse effects on the water and the life therein.

Despite the fact that water is polluted by the three pollutants as argued in this essay, Edward Laws who is the dean of Louisiana State University school of the coast and environment in his book Aquatic Pollution: an introductory text, argues that the oil spills in the ocean floor are constant and that the only problem with pipe bursts is that they release oil all at once. He says that if the oil spills over a very large area, then the effects would somehow be mitigated since the air would be not be prevented to a dangerous extent and that the birds that visit the shores are incapable of going into the far sea to find food. Pollution is only evident when people can see the damage that it causes. If the effects of such pollution are not felt, then the water can be considered safe to a certain degree since the life in it is not much affected. As for fertilizers the nutrients can be beneficial to aquatic plants because it fosters it growth. The plants are a good source of food for the fish in the water and therefore it can be argued that if they are not in excess then fertilizers are a bit beneficial in the water as long as the plants do not compete with other life in the water for essential needs like oxygen.


Agaward, S.K. (2005).Water Pollution (vol 2). New York. APH Books Publishing.

Chauhan, B.S. (2008). Environmental Studies. New Orleans. Firewall Media.

Edward, A. Laws. (2008).Aquatic Pollution: An Introductory Text (3rd Ed.). New York. West Publishing.

Goel, P.K. (2006). Water pollution: Causes, Effects and Control. London. New Age International.

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