Water Pollution

Water pollution is the contamination of water sources by substances which make the water unusable for drinking, cooking, cleaning, swimming, and other activities. Pollutants include chemicals, trash, bacteria, and parasites. All forms of pollution eventually make their way to water. Air pollution settles onto lakes and oceans. Land pollution can seep into an underground stream, then to a river, and finally to the ocean. Thus, waste dumped in a vacant lot can eventually pollute a water supply.



The amount of a substance in the water. Part per Million (PPM) means there is 1 drop of chemical mixed in with (diluted in) 1,000,000 drops of water. This is the same as 1 drop in a bathtub of water. Part per Billion (PPB)would be the same as 1 drop of chemical in a swimming pool full of water.


Chemicals or other waste from factories which is dumped into the environment.


Plants and very small animals in lakes and ponds grow so fast that they use up all the oxygen in the water, causing everything else to suffocate.It is caused by too many nutrients in the water.


Removal of particles and tiny organisms by forcing the water through materials that have very small holes.


Substances which plants and animals use for food, including fertilizers from farms and sewage. Too many nutrients in water can cause eutrophication.


The wastewater from bathrooms and factories, usually containing biological contaminants.


Poisonous. Acute toxicity is when the substance has poisonous effects in a short time (hours to days). Chronic toxicity is when an organism is exposed to a chemical in low doses over a long period of time. Toxic effects may occur after years, often as a disease like cancer.


An area which contains all the water systems (rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and underground water sources, etc.) formed by the runoff of rain and snow from the land, streets, and mountains in a particular region.The water eventually flows into the ocean.
Diseases, Medical Problems

Water pollutants may cause disease or act as poisons. Bacteria and parasites in poorly treated sewage may enter drinking water supplies and cause digestive problems such as cholera and diarrhea. Hazardous chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides from industries, farms, homes and golf courses can cause acute toxicity and immediate death, or chronic toxicity that can lead to neurological problems or cancers. Many water pollutants enter our bodies when we use water for drinking and food preparation. The pollutants enter the digestive tract. From there, they can reach other organs in the body and cause various illnesses. Chemicals come in contact with the skin from washing clothes, or from swimming in polluted water and may lead to skin irritations. Hazardous chemicals in water systems can also affect the animals and plants which live there. Sometimes these organisms will survive with the chemicals in their systems, only to be eaten by humans who may then become mildly ill or develop stronger toxic symptoms. The animals and plants themselves may die or not reproduce properly.

What You Can Do?

Use less water: Clean, fresh water may seem plentiful, but there is a limited amount available on earth. Use water-saving devices on sinks, in toilets, and in showers. Take short showers instead of baths. Do not run the water constantly while brushing your teeth. Wash clothes when you have a full load of laundry. Only water your lawn and plants when absolutely necessary.

Avoid pouring chemicals down the drain: Use fewer chemicals and cleaners around the home. Not only will you cut down on indoor air pollution, but also on the amount of chemicals entering the water system. If necessary, use biodegradable cleaners. Do not pour oil or other chemicals into the drainage system on the street.

Have your water checked for lead contamination: Many homes have lead pipes or lead around connections on the pipes which carry water to their homes. Since this lead may enter your drinking water and cause medical problems in young children, you might want to have the water tested. If lead is present, installing a filter may solve the problem.

Do not pollute outdoor water sources: Do not pour oil or other chemicals into the drainage system on the street. A little oil can kill many plants and animals. Do not litter, especially near water. Litter may be eaten as food by animals and cause harm to them. Do not use pesticides on lawns, or use only organic ones. Use less fertilizer, also. All these can enter our water sources.

Enjoy water for eating, drinking, cleaning, swimming, etc. Just remember to use it carefully. Do not waste or pollute this limited precious resource.